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Watford sack their manager and instantly replace him with ex-West Ham and West Brom boss

Watford sack their manager Rob Edwards and instantly replace him with ex-West Ham and West Brom boss Slaven Bilić, it’s confirmed.

The Championship club got rid of Edwards, 39, after just 11 games in charge, having been appointed in May after leading Forest Green Rovers to promotion from League Two.

He replaced former England boss Roy Hodgson and became the Hornets’ eighth permanent manager since 2018.

Bilic has been out of management since leaving Chinese club Beijing Guoan.


Watford FC has relieved Rob Edwards of his duties as Head Coach.

The Board of Watford Football Club wishes to place on record its thanks to Rob for all of his work since his appointment and wish him and his assistant Richie Kyle – who will also leave the club – all the very best for their future careers in coaching and management.

Watford FC confirms Slaven Bilić as its new Head Coach on an 18-month contract, subject to receiving the relevant work permit.

He replaces Rob Edwards who, along with assistant Richie Kyle, has left Vicarage Road.

“As with all decisions taken by the Board, I believe this change to be in the best interests of the club,” says Hornets’ owner Gino Pozzo of the move.

“We felt Rob had enough time to show us the identity of his team, however performances haven’t reflected our hopes and ambitions.

“Now we must move forward, and, in Slaven Bilić, we have secured the services of an experienced coach who has recent experience of promotion to the Premier League.”

Former Croatia international player and national team coach, Bilić’s most recent work in this country was to guide West Bromwich Albion to promotion in the 2019/20 season.

The 54-year-old also managed West Ham United in the Premier League, collecting coaching experience abroad in between times at Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia and most recently in China with Beijing Guoan. He’s also managed in Russia and homeland Croatia.

The ex-centre-half’s playing career began in the late 1980s in his home country, before experience in Germany preceded his time in England at both West Ham United and Everton. His career ended in 2000 after an emotional return to his first club Hajduk Split, in Croatia.

Bilić’s other staff will be confirmed in due course and Watford FC will make no further comment at this time.


He flew into London from his home back in Split to agree terms on a contract and is expected to take charge of Watford’s next game which is away to Stoke City.

The last international break of the year gives Watford the chance to re-set and Bilic, who had been out of work, and was identified as the ideal coach to get them back on track and provide the experienced leadership for an immediate return to the Premier League.

Even though Edwards was in charge for just 10 Championship games as head coach, Watford fear they are already losing ground at the top of the table.

Acting now gives them a chance to get themselves back in the race and there is also the prolonged World Cup break in November and December which will give the new head coach time to install his ideas ahead of a promotion push.

In an interview with Telegraph Sport last month Bilic, said that he is not only prepared to wait for the right opportunity but also turned down the chance to take over at Greek club Olympiakos among several clubs who have approached him – but working again in the Championship is of great interest.

Watford sit in 10th place in the Championship and a point outside the play-off places, Watford’s aim this season is automatic promotion and, after a run of just one win in seven games and just three league wins this season, they are already six points adrift of second-placed Norwich and nine off leaders Sheffield United and in fear that the team is heading in the wrong direction.

The other two relegated sides, Norwich (second) and Burnley (fourth) – also have a new manager in Vincent Kompany – are ahead of them and look in better shape.

Edwards, who took over from Roy Hodgson and agreed a two-year contract in something of a change of direction for Watford, was poached from Forest Green Rovers in the summer and appeared a surprise choice given his only managerial experience had been working in the fourth tier for just one season, albeit gaining promotion as champions. 

They protested that negotiations with Edward were held “behind their backs” and accused Watford of “deceit”.

Watford claimed in response that Edwards’s contract allowed him to leave at any point to discuss job offers, which Rovers denied.

Bilic will be Watford’s 10th permanent manager in five years and will again lay themselves open to criticism, however they will of course argue that they had to act now to give the best possible chance – and with the squad clearly under-performing – of gaining promotion back to the Premier League.

West Brom fans will probably be wishing their club did the same with Steve Bruce, who is still struggling despite being given more time.

Twitter users gave their reaction as Watford sack their manager and instantly replace him with the ex-West Ham and West Brom boss…

@jfwfc: You are a disgrace

@LFC_Matthew1: He won’t last 18 months

@BristolOli: 18 minute contract don’t you mean

@tracking_rory: Will be sacked by the time he gets his work permit

@wfcHJames: Can’t wait for you to sack him after 3 months. Pozzo out.

@wfccaity: Just delete the whole club

@Alex_King_10: 18 months ? Getting ahead of ourselves here

@1AndrewMitchell: How do I get a refund on my season ticket? I want to be part of a family club with values, not a circus.

@MJGgraphics: Giaretta Out.

@AaronJfernandez: Pozzos out, Duxbury out

@foxintheboxfm: Never thought I’d hate my club, but here we are

@AlfredField: Just a joke at this point, don’t back him at all, give him the same lacklustre defence and expect him to do the impossible putting square pegs in round holes #PozzoOut

@S5B93: Absolutely embarrassing.

@jaisinghhhh: U lot are a laughing stock and it’s hard to say that when you’re a Huddersfield fan

@kristianmartin9: Absolute disgraceful behaviour, what are you doing to my club?!

@hogan_kieran: Seriously questioning my loyalty to this club right now.

@Howell1997: Embarrassing, such a low point 😂

@pajemiki: Sick and tired of this. Been a fan 40 years, but enough is enough.

@mattjack389: I’m interested to see if it’s Duxbury whose been lying to the fans or if it’s Duxbury has been lied too tbh. Either way the fans have been lied too by someone. #WatfordFC

@covo26: I know this is not going to be original, but the Pozzo’s have to go. No, we haven’t been great this season but the squad never fit RE. What is the plan, like honestly, Bilic is a good coach at this level but not someone we will have long-term success with. #watfordfc

@SarryHands: Club are an actual disgrace. It’s an achievement that they haven’t catapulted to League Two like Portsmouth and Blackpool did. Fans are great but the owners are some of the most rotten in football history #WatfordFC

@DarrenQuick79: I’m so pissed off with this sacking. More than anything I feel embarrassed – it’s impossible to defend this club any longer. I just want a manager that’s given time that I can grow attached to. The division we play in is not the be all&end all for me #watfordfc #pozzoout

@TomHarris15: This sacking following on from the complete shambles of the summer transfer window just sums up the board are getting worse and worse. Complete farce which will forever be reative and never follow through on long term planning #watfordfc

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