There appeared very little doubt, after Beppe Sannino had announced his resignation as Watford Head Coach on Sunday evening, that Oscar Garcia was the man whom the Pozzos had targeted. He was clearly their number one priority and would not rest until they had appointed him.
Such was the unanimity amongst ‘sources’ in professing Garcia as being immediately in pole position, it appears talks with the former Brighton boss were just as easy as it is to imagine that Garcia will take to this job like a duck to water.
Sannino’s departure perhaps came as a surprise to those who’s following of Watford stretches only to the fact that they currently sit second in The Championship. However to fans and journalists who keep a closer eye on developments at Vicarage Road, there was a feeling that this parting of the ways was imminent.
Amidst rumours of fallings out with players, an aggressive management style, frustrating and tedious training sessions and a lack of man-management skills, there has been doubt over Sannino’s future for a good couple of weeks, ever since Lloyd Dyer’s very public outburst at his boss after his goal against Rotherham.
Those closer to the club tell us that privately, Sannino’s position has been on the verge of untenable for months, and that the club’s league position belies the frosty player/manager relationship that had developed. The Pozzo family, the club’s owners, decided that such a position was unsustainable under the current regime and Sannino reportedly jumped before he was pushed.
The Pozzos have thrown everything at promotion this summer. Despite not actually spending any money in transfer fees directly, they have bought players via sister clubs Udinese and Granada, and the wage bill is surely up there amongst the highest in the club’s history.
A squad which includes several players who have featured for very decent national sides – Heurelho Gomes, Almen Abdi, Daniel Tozser and Matej Vydra amongst them, and there’s plenty more – should be challenging and there is pressure on the new man.
There is, however, every reason to believe that Garcia is more than capable of doing the job.
Firstly, he speaks English – a blessed ingredient for fans and, surely, players alike, who had become frustrated at Sannino’s inability to get his message across. The Italian tried his best to learn the language but a fluent speaker will help no end.
Garcia incredibly becomes the first Watford boss to have experience of managing in the second tier of English football since Graham Taylor left in 2001. While the club has had its fair share of good young managers in that time – Ray Lewington, Brendan Rodgers and Sean Dyche have all gone on to bigger and better things – this squad, with its contingent of foreign players, is begging for a man who knows how to negotiate a Championship season.
Garcia achieved miracles in taking an average looking Brighton squad into the play-offs and although they fell short, the Spaniard showed enough to prove his worth.
His Brighton side conceded the second fewest goals in the division last season. The home dressing room at Vicarage Road is full to the brim with goal-scoring potential and were it for a bit more defensive nous would probably be in the Premier League right now. If Garcia can make The Hornets hard to beat, the talent at the other end should make them a formidable outfit.
There was an accusation from Brighton fans that Garcia’s football philosophies were a little restricted and ‘boring’. As a disciple of Johan Cruyff at Barcelona, Garcia surely has the ability to produce attacking, pleasing on the eye football when provided with the correct tools. Those tools were not always available on the South Coast – Brighton lacked quality attacking players and Garcia extracted all that he could from a limited squad.
It is worth remembering that Sannino was predominantly a defensive-minded coach and his footballing methods were working. The Hornets still regularly scored in threes and fours, particularly at home.
Garcia has, however, shown his versatility as a manager at Maccabi Tel-Aviv, breaking the club’s ten year drought without a league title as the top scorers in the division in his first season of management.
The Spaniard has been gifted an excellent squad in an encouraging league position. He doesn’t need to be a miracle worker, just to be able to utilise the tools he has been given.
The new Watford boss appears to tick all the boxes – but the pressure is on.
By Adam Drury – @