Claudio Ranieri New Watford Manager

Claudio Ranieri
REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

One day after the surprise sacking of their manager, Watford have appointed Claudio Ranieri. The Hornets relieved Xisco Muñoz of his duties Sunday after their loss to Leeds United. 24 hours later, they officially unveiled Ranieri as his successor.

Though few expected the sacking of Muñoz, managerial turnover has become the norm at Watford in recent years. Since their purchase by the Pozzo family in 2012, the club have indeed become notorious for their constant changes. So much so that Ranieri will become their 17th manager in just 10 years.

Watford managerial turnover

This managerial merry-go-round becomes even more bizarre when one realises it is not always impacted by results. In fact, in 2015, Slaviša Jokanović even failed to keep his job despite leading the team to promotion. The Serbian took over mid-season, after the club had already sacked two managers in two months. Despite this turmoil, he led the Hornets to a second place finish, one point off of first. With it, the club returned to the Premier League. And with 21 wins out of only 36 games, Jokanović held the best win ratio of any Watford manager. But despite this, the club failed to prolong his contract, and he left without managing a Premier League game.

Xisco Muñoz’ stint, in many ways, was quite similar to that of Jokanović. Hired mid-season, the Spaniard also led Watford to second place. This was their first promotion since 2015. But while he did stay on for the Premier League campaign, Watford sacked him after only seven games. Ironically, this means he departs with the exact same record as Jokanović of 21 wins out of 36.

Watford explained their decision in their release. They stated the change was a result of “a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving.” It is, however, hard to understand how cohesion can improve if the managers keep changing.

Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri will now have the international break to get to know his players before hosting Liverpool on October 16th. The Italian is best known for his exploits at the helm of Leicester City, which saw them clinch a league title in 2015/16. Since then, his career has been a mixed-bag at best.

Less than a year after their miraculous run, Leicester sacked Ranieri with the team one point above the relegation zone. The following season, he joined AS Nantes and led them to a mid-table finish. He then had a short stint at Fulham, where he won only three out of 17 games. A month later, he signed a short-term deal with AS Roma to try and save their season. When the club missed out on Champions League qualification, they announced his departure.

Ranieri’s most recent managerial job saw him take over at bottom-placed Sampdoria in October 2019. Under his leadership, the club avoided relegation with a 15th placed finish. The following year, he guided them to ninth but decided not to renew his contract at the end of the season.

With Watford’s history of managerial turnover, it is unclear what is expected of Claudio Ranieri at the club. And with only a two-year contract, and given his recent tenures elsewhere, it is hard to imagine he will be around for long anyway. His appointment is then just the latest in a long saga of puzzling decisions by the Watford board.

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