Slaven Bilic may turn out to be a great appointment, but Watford fans no longer trust a word the owners say | The Sun
27th September 2022

WATFORD have sacked Rob Edwards and replaced him with Slaven Bilic, the club’s 17th appointment under owner Gino Pozzo.

And for the first time since the Pozzo family took charge in 2012, fans have been surprised to witness a change in head coach.

This is because, on June 13, chairman Scott Duxbury was crystal clear about the new direction owner Gino Pozzo wanted to take the club in and the job Edwards was expected to do.

In an interview with the Watford Observer, he said: “In the last ten years we have delivered success.

“But we need more. It needs to be something much more tangible than just success on the field.

“We need a club that is connected to the fans and the community. We think Rob is the perfect person to deliver that.

“Gino Pozzo wants the club to be successful and playing sustained Premier League football.

"That’s always been his only ambition for Watford. I am on exactly the same page.


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“However, he accepts that the way we try and work to deliver that had to change.

"We know that we could not carry on as we were. Watford Football Club needed its culture back.

“In Rob Edwards, we have appointed a manager we all totally believe in, and a manager who will lead and drive that change.

"We will be supporting Rob Edwards come hell or high water.

"We believe that he will deliver what we all want – sustained and successful Premier League football.”

This interview was music to the ears of supporters, who held high hopes of promotion this season, but also of change.

They fully trusted Duxbury’s words and expected to see a manager steeped in the community become the central figure at the club for the first time in a decade.

Where once, fans fully embraced the revolving door system, they have recently found it less and less relatable, with each head coach appearing to be hired purely to bring the opposite qualities to the previous incumbent.

If the football was dull, an attacking head coach would be brought in.

If the head coach appeared too soft on the players, a disciplinarian would be recruited.

As an owner who took total charge of transfers, Gino Pozzo always knew the identity of the players he wanted at the club.

But over the years he has seemed to have less and less idea of what identity he wants the team to have.


This way of working set the atmosphere at the club on a downward spiral which culminated in an antagonistic Roy Hodgson relegating a disinterested squad at Selhurst Park and then applauding the Crystal Palace fans but not his own supporters.

Hodgson’s actions left Watford fans with the bitterest of tastes in the mouth, but all the more delighted at the prospect of a young, enthusiastic manager taking the reigns for the long haul.

With the club tenth in the league, results under Rob Edwards have not been as impressive as they probably should have been, but nor have they been disastrous.

After last week's 2-2 draw with Sunderland, striker Keinan Davis even went as far as to say: “We don’t want a change of coach — definitely not.”

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Off the pitch, Edwards has been hugely engaging in the community and in interviews.

One gesture, in particular, showed that he ‘gets it’ as far as the culture is concerned.

After a poor performance in his first away game, where the team scraped a draw at West Brom, Edwards dragged certain players across to applaud the supporters rather than letting them slip down the tunnel.

There was no expectation of a sacking, because Duxbury’s interview made clear that if the players were underperforming then it would fall to the new head coach to ultimately build a squad in his own image.

For Gino Pozzo to ignore all the positives on the non-playing side and go back on the commitment made to Edwards in the summer, was the biggest imaginable breach of the fans’ trust.

It has been seen as a gesture of complete indifference, rather like a naughty schoolboy who promises to turn over a new leaf only to place a tack on the teacher’s chair the very next day.

It is possible that Slaven Bilic, a man who hit the ground running with Croatia, West Ham and West Brom, could be a perfect fit for a club and a system that requires results in an instant.

A charismatic figure and straight shooter like Bilic could even help to continue Edwards’ work in restoring a connection to the community, if there were any expectation of him being around long enough to do so.

But at Watford it is clear that there will be no meaningful change, whoever coaches the team.

It is clear that an owner who hasn't held an interview in eight years will continue to choose the playing squad but hold the head coach solely accountable for its performances.

And it is clear that underperforming players will continue having no incentive to improve.

After all, if they ever fall out of favour, they know the reset button will be pressed and a new head coach will be just around the corner.

Hopes of promotion are as alive and well under Slaven Bilic as they were under Rob Edwards.

But the bigger hope the supporters had this season, of having a club and an identity to be proud of, has been snuffed out after just ten games.

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