Following Saturday’s 2-1 Championship home loss to Coventry City, second-tier English club Watford fired manager Valerien Ismael. Their poor run of form had seen them lose six out of the past eight games.

The Hornets dropped to 13th in the league after losing 2-1 to Sky Blues. They are now seven points clear of the relegation zone and far from the play-off spots.

By May of last year, Watford had dropped to eleventh position in the Championship, and the Frenchman had taken charge at Vicarage Road.

He extended his contract in October, but his bad streak has now cost him dearly.

The Pozzo family appointed Ismael as their 20th manager. During his 41 games as manager, Watford had 12 wins, 15 losses, and 14 draws. Despite losing to Coventry, Ismael was buoyant on Saturday, only hours before being fired, as he praised his team’s effort.

“It’s a real pity today but we have seen a good performance from our players,” he said. “Good energy on the pitch, good dynamic. We tried to change the way things are going. When we go to shoot, we always took the extra touch, crosses went too high or low or blocked.

“We shot a lot on target today, so our game was back and now it’s just the lack of confidence to play freely. I think we were really good and didn’t see anything from Coventry today. It was just a day like that where everything runs against you.”

What did Watford say?

In a formal statement, Watford thanked Ismael and his team for all of their hard work. The board, however, has decided that a change in management is necessary to achieve better outcomes, as they put it.

Watford announced their new manager quickly after dismissing Ismael
Watford announced their new manager quickly after dismissing Ismael

Watford announced their new manager quickly after dismissing Ismael

“The Hornets thank Valérien and his staff for their dedication and commitment, however, the club’s Board considers it an appropriate time to make a change in order to improve results”, the statement said.

Tom Cleverley, a former midfielder for Manchester United, has been named Watford’s temporary manager to cover the vacant position. With the resignation of the 47-year-old, the club has now hired its eleventh head coach since 2018.

Cleverley is, in fact, their eighth since the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Watford was the home of the 34-year-old for a considerable chunk of his professional career.

“Tom Cleverley will assume the position of Interim Head Coach at Vicarage Road. This follows Watford FC terminating the contract of Valérien Ismaël after today’s home defeat to Coventry City. Tom Cleverley’s staff will be confirmed in due course”, the Hornets confirmed.

What can Cleverley do at Watford?

Cleverley joined the club on loan many times before committing permanently in 2017. He appeared in 181 games for the Vicarage Road, scoring 19 goals and assisting on another 15.

The former midfielder was a member of United’s 2013 Premier League-winning squad and Hornets’ 2019 FA Cup-winning squad. Now that he is Watford’s head coach, Cleverley has the difficult chore of ensuring his team’s playoff prospects.

After retiring from playing in 2023, the 34-year-old began coaching Watford’s under-18 team.

Photo credit: IMAGO / PA Images.