I worked under 14 different managers in my ten years at Watford – and it was 17 if you include the caretakers.
But even when you get used to so many owners’ business, it’s usually a shock when you hear about a manager leaving.
People think football players are heartless and they don’t really care about losing their boss’s job, but that’s not true.
It’s just that you get shocked for about two and a half minutes and then you’re thinking about the next manager.
That’s because modern football is such a fast-paced world that there’s hardly any time to feel the sympathy, the humanity, that has lost its job.
I know Watford has been through more managers than any other club during the last decade, but most clubs are no different.
No more managerial longevity and Watford has largely been very successful with his approach.
We won promotion, reached the FA Cup final, played five seasons in the Premier League, and even made a straight comeback when we were dropped in 2020, despite changing managers mid-season.
The quality of managers that Watford attracts is also impressive.
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Those 14 are some of the big names I worked for and I enjoyed working under the vast majority.
Now my old club has changed managers again, sacking Zisco Muoz and bringing in Claudio Ranieri, who took over for the first time against Liverpool today.
Ranieri is another high quality coach. He famously won the Premier League with Leicester and although he was unsuccessful at Fulham, he has since had a successful spell with Sampdoria in Italy.
He will get instant respect from Watford players and I know he has already been impressed by his training sessions.
In many ways, when Watford knew a man of Ranieri’s caliber was available, making changes would have been a no-brainer.
Xisco was a much liked person. The players liked him because there was no bull**t.
He was a great man who did a good job last season. But I don’t think his departure would have come as much of a shock to anyone inside or outside the club.
I’m not saying Zisko would be expecting it, but like most managers at most clubs, he is realistic about the nature of the job.
While the players would be in shock when they heard Jisko is gone, you don’t have time to sit around shocked for long.
After Watford’s win at Norwich last month, he might have thought he would get at least until the November international break.
The results haven’t been as bad for the newly introduced team, but I know the past few performances – a 1-1 draw with Newcastle and a 1-0 loss at Leeds – were poor, as some of the team has publicly stated. fessed up.
So when players hear Xisco leaving, there will be an initial sense of shock among them, you just don’t have time to sit around long enough to be shocked.
You start wondering who the next guy will be – and to be fair to Watford, it usually doesn’t take long.
“You go into a selfish mode, which I think is only natural. You start thinking ‘Will this manager like me?’ and ‘What is his style of play and will I fit in?’ You may wonder ‘Am I fit enough?’.
As players, you rarely know that change is coming. Because I had been at Watford for ten years, people assumed I had some kind of point in the coming and going of managers.
But I usually found out on Sky Sports news or elsewhere in the media – that’s what happens in most clubs.
If he had ever asked me who I wanted to be the next manager, I probably would have advised him to bring back Gianfranco Zola, because I loved working for him.
I knew I would get four or five chances to score in every match and I would indulge in fun football.
Franco would be happy to win 5-4 every week for us.
At the other end of the spectrum, Walter Mazari would be satisfied if we only had one shot in the entire match, as long as we won 1-0.
The style of play at Watford often varies widely from manager to manager, but most of the time it kept us on our toes and we were successful.
The most surprising departure came when Nigel Pearson, dropping two games before the end of our relegation campaign, did a great job getting us out of the relegation zone.
We lost a big six-pointer to West Ham and only Manchester City and Arsenal were to follow.
RANIERI will keep them
When I got a text from the club at 8 the next morning asking me to report half an hour early for a meeting, I assumed they might just be asking what they could do to help with the last two games .
So it was a real surprise to learn that Nigel was already gone.
Still, you can’t deny that Watford’s owners have been largely successful.
And I am confident that Ranieri will comfortably keep him in the Premier League.
He starts today against Liverpool, who will be well motivated after receiving plenty of reminders that their long unbeaten run ended last time with a 3-0 loss at Vicarage Road.
I wish Claudio and everyone at Watford the very best.
Because, while I understand that all those changes may seem like madness to the outside world, there is a lot of method in their perceived madness.