The Golden Goose: Why The Watford Job Is Actually A Manager's Dream

Roy Hodgson's choice may have seemed bizarre to some, but it makes perfect sense
12:30, 28 Jan 2022

Watford have had more managers than home wins this season.

Roy Hodgson is the latest victim-in-waiting, nervously settling into the chair in his office, checking for the trapdoor beneath it. Searching for the bloody battle axe that drops from the ceiling at the push of a button operated remotely by ruthless owner Gino Pozzo.

Football fans up and down the country are already crossing their hearts and bracing themselves for the brutal fate that awaits the former England boss, a national treasure.

Hodgson is the third supposedly unwitting fool since August to shake hands with the devil and become manager of struggling Watford. The 16th in the turbulent ten years of the Pozzo regime. Vicarage Road is considered a coach’s graveyard. 

A knock on the door from Gino Pozzo is like a house call from the Mafia.

Until of course you realise that the biggest mug in all this is bozo Pozzo himself.

For every time they bring the guillotine down on their manager it costs serious cash. 

Without knowing the full ins and outs of Gino Pozzo’s bank account it’s safe to assume he is not a serious player like Chelsea’s billionaire benefactor Roman Abramovich, the mega-rich new Saudi owners at Newcastle, the oil tycoons who have been bankrolling Manchester City for years.

If he was, then Watford’s most expensive signing would not be the £25 million club-record fee paid for forward Ismaila Sarr and Pozzo would be spending his way out of the current relegation dogfight.

Most of the Italian’s spare money is being syphoned off to the steady stream of managers heading out of the Elton John Stand buckling under the weight of unwieldy wheelbarrows full of banknotes as a payoff.

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The club blindly insists that the methodology of machine-gunning managers at a moment’s notice has brought success. 

A recent five year stint in the Premier League is decent enough but that seems a distant memory now as The Hornets spiral towards their second relegation in three years. The record 6-0 FA Cup final humiliation by Manchester City is a permanent stain on the character..

Yet it is actually a coach’s dream to work at Watford. 

It is easy money. Never mind daily snooping visits from the owner or living with the notion that every day could be your last. Who cares about that? 

Certainly not Roy Hodgson and his assistant Ray Lewington who came skipping out of retirement on Monday lunchtime to take over from Claudio Ranieri 

A five and a half month contract will comfortably cover the cost of those OAP discount cinema tickets 74-year-old Hodgson has been enjoying. His loyal no.2 Lewington answered the call to join him back on the touchline with a shrug and a ready acceptance.

Hodgson and Lewington are hugely respected coaches, highly regarded for the way they conduct themselves on and off the pitch. Both were quite busy doing nothing and content with it. But the chance to try to save an ailing team nobody expects to stay up anyway and be paid handsomely for it is too good to miss.

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It was the same with Ranieri, Xisco Munoz, Vladimir Ivic, Nigel Pearson, Quique Sanchez Flores (twice!), Javi Gracia, Marco Silva and the other former managers who will remember Watford fondly, not for the football but for the golden goodbye.

It might not be fortunes but every penny Pozzo has to bung his endless lick of sacked coaches is money that is not available to spend on the new players that the club obviously needs to get better.

Ranieri was always a poor choice. The glow of that immortal 2016 Premier League triumph with Leicester did not last long. The Italian was a disaster at trying to keep Fulham in the top division in 2019 - winning only three of the 16 Premier League games he was allowed before getting sacked by a club which craves stability.

Hodgson will be a different fit. With vast experience and excellent communications skills, he will drill Watford and very quickly they will become better organised and have a fighting chance of staying up.

If they don’t, Hodgson will depart having earned a fair few quid and can go back to daytime TV with his reputation intact and extra money in his pension pot. 

But Watford will be back in the Championship looking for yet another manager and the whole sad and expensive merry-go-round will start again.

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