A look at Watford’s turbulent managerial history under their current ownership

The club’s Italian owners, Gino Pozzo and his family, have gained a reputation for hiring and firing managers at will.

Claudio Ranieri (left) is the latest manager sacked by Gino Pozzo, following the likes of Quique Sanchez Flores (right) (Martin Rickett/Nick Potts/PA)

By Tom White, PA Sport Data Journalist

Claudio Ranieri has joined Watford’s long list of managerial sackings.

The club’s Italian owners, Gino Pozzo and his family, have gained a reputation for hiring and firing managers at will and Friday’s 3-0 defeat to Norwich saw Ranieri become the latest victim.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the club’s turbulent managerial history under their current ownership.

Ranieri’s reign

Claudio Ranieri watched his team lose to Norwich (Nick Potts/PA)

Ranieri is best remembered for leading Leicester to a shock Premier League title in 2016, just a season after they had survived a fraught relegation battle – but Fulham and now Watford have unsuccessfully chased the same magic since.

His time in charge of the Hornets brought just two wins – both memorable, with Everton dispatched 5-2 before a 4-1 victory over Manchester United ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford reign.

Apart from those games, there was only one other in which Ranieri’s Watford scored more than once – a 4-2 defeat to his former club Leicester.

They scored 17 and conceded 34 goals under his guidance and lost 11 of his 14 games, with their seventh and final point coming courtesy of a late equaliser against Newcastle. Ranieri, meanwhile, has won 10 and lost 34 of 53 Premier League games since Leicester’s title win.

Constant change

Claudio Ranieri’s sacking is the 15th Watford managerial change under the ownership of Gino Pozzo and family (PA Graphic)

Starting with Gianfranco Zola shortly after their takeover, Pozzo and family – along with chairman Scott Duxbury – have made 14 permanent managerial appointments in less than 10 years.

That included three in 37 days in one madcap spell shortly after Pozzo took sole charge in 2014.

That was admittedly influenced by Oscar Garcia standing down due to ill health after just four games in charge, though the decision to appoint Billy McKinlay on a permanent basis and sack him two games – and four points – later was Pozzo’s alone.

Gino Pozzo (centre) and Scott Duxbury (left) have never hesitated to pull the trigger (Mike Egerton/PA)

No manager in their time in charge has matched Zola’s 75 games, with only he and Javi Gracia breaking through the half-century mark in a single spell – Quique Sanchez Flores was appointed twice, serving first for 44 games and then 12.

Win percentages are an imperfect measure of success in that time due to the difference between Premier League and Championship football. Slavisa Jokanovic and Xisco Munoz, as well as McKinlay, cracked 50 per cent but Gracia’s 37.9 per cent is the best record for a reign spent wholly in the top flight.

Beppe Sannino, Walter Mazzarri, Marco Silva, Nigel Pearson and Vladimir Ivic are the other managers to work under Pozzo, as well as two-time caretaker Hayden Mullins.

Sliding doors

The first manager axed by the Pozzos has a pub named in honour of his success in his subsequent job (Anthony Devlin/PA)

One of the Pozzo family’s first acts after taking charge was to sack Sean Dyche in July 2012 in favour of Zola.

While they have cycled through managers at a dramatic rate since then, Dyche was appointed by Burnley less than four months later and remains in his post.

He has twice taken the Clarets up to the Premier League, in his second and fourth seasons in charge with a relegation in between, and has established them in the top flight until this season’s fight against the drop. So highly regarded is he in Burnley that a pub in the town – The Royal Dyche – is named in his honour.

Dyche is the longest-serving current Premier League manager, while in the EFL only Harrogate’s Simon Weaver – who spent 11 seasons with them in non-league before 2020’s promotion – and Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth have been in post longer.

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