Could Ranieri Be The Best Thing To Happen To Watford?

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So Christmas season is nearly upon us, and as always we have the yearly traditions that happen with Christmas; The tree goes up, people buy presents for one another, and Watford get rid of their manager…

To the average football fan, this is nothing short of hilarious. At first glance we looked at Watford and they were in 14th place, had won two games (including a very impressive opening day win against Aston Villa) and had seven points in seven games.

At that rate they were due to get 38 points, which would most likely be enough for the newly promoted team to stay up. Most fans would look at this and think, “Of course they got rid of their manager; this is Watford! If they don’t sack a manager in twelve months then that would be the first sign of the apocalypse…”

However if we dig a little deeper then we start to understand where the owners might be coming from. Here is a list of the first seven games Watford played in the Premier League:

  • Aston Villa
  • Brighton
  • Tottenham Hotspurs
  • Wolves
  • Norwich
  • Newcastle
  • Leeds

Aside from Spurs, this is one of the easiest starts to a Premier League campaign I have seen in a long while, and while Watford have got the equivalent of one point a game during this period, how they played was at times way below the standard of how a Premier League team should perform, and that is putting it politely. Ultimately it was this, and not the league position they were in, that most likely caused the owners to fire their eleventh permanent manager in just over seven years.

Those statistics are shocking to say the least, but it was hard to defend Muñoz after the game against Leeds. Leeds are better than their league position currently suggests, but they should not have dominated Watford like they did. If the game ended 5-0, I’d be surprised if any honest supporter would say that was unfair…

So despite Muñoz doing very well to get Watford back into the Premier League, his sacking is more justified than it is at face value. Arguably harsh from a neutral perspective, but Watford need a turn around quickly, and the Pozzo’s must have felt Muñoz was not the guy to do that.

This is where Ranieri comes in…

So What Does Ranieri Offer Watford…?

Most fans would throw out his astounding Premier League title win at Leicester City as proof that Ranieri is a top manager, but football doesn’t work like that, as Fulham found out the hard way a few seasons ago.

However the difference between Ranieri and his many counterparts at Watford is simple; experience. Watford traditionally have been accused in the past of going for the ‘cheap’ option. Many of their managers have been young and hungry, whereas Ranieri is most definitely not the ‘cheap’ option, and has been managing at the top level for over 25 years. He knows the game, and can offer Watford the stability they need. With Fulham, it didn’t work, and he’ll be eager to avenge that blot in his otherwise stellar career.

Also with Watford, their major flaw this season has been they have been outwitted tactically on more than one occasion. With Sarr, Foster, Joshua King, Sissoko, the impressive Emmanuel Dennis and the on loan Turkish international Tufan, they have players that are capable of guiding Watford to a lower to mid table position. However without the right guidance, their talent will be futile in one the most competitive leagues in the world. Any mistake will be punished, as Watford have found out.

Ranieri is well known for being tactically astute, and getting the best out of his players. Watford’s confidence are currently at an all time low, so for Ranieri to come in and mould these players into what they can be could end up being a masterstroke by the Watford owners. Their next few fixtures look pretty brutal, so if Claudio sneaks a win against any one of those teams he’ll instantly have the fans behind him. If they lose, then no problem, they weren’t expected to win, which gives the tinkerman time to figure out who can really do a job for him at the Hertfordshire club.

Do I think Claudio Ranieri will bring Watford to the heights of where Leicester are? Of course not, but as long as the owners give him a chance then he could end up adding Watford to his success stories as a manager. If they become a solid mid table Premier League team once again then I personally would consider that a huge success. Can they get there? Only time will tell. But they have the tools and now the manager, so lets see by the end of the season whether everything gels, or Watford end up going into freefall…