Struggling Watford sack Silva, appoint Gracia

Marco Silva was a target for Everton earlier in the campaign after an excellent start to the season that saw Watford climb as high as fourth in the Premier League table.
Marco Silva was a target for Everton earlier in the campaign after an excellent start to the season that saw Watford climb as high as fourth in the Premier League table.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Watford announced yesterday they had sacked manager Marco Silva, blaming an "unwarranted approach" by Premier League rivals Everton for a downturn in results and loss of focus.

The Portuguese was a target for the Merseyside club earlier in the campaign after an excellent start to the season that saw the Hornets climb as high as fourth in the Premier League table in October.

But the worst run in the Premier League from the last 11 games, with just five points from 33, has cost him his job, and Sky Sports and the BBC reported that former Malaga manager Javi Gracia, 47, will take over at Vicarage Road this week.

Everton ultimately appointed Sam Allardyce to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman.

"The club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership," Watford said in a statement.

"The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised."

The club are 10th in the Premier League table but only five points clear of the relegation places.

Watford added that they "will seek to make a swift appointment" to replace Silva, who felt his position was safe on Saturday night.

"My job is to work hard, together with my players, to improve," he said after watching his side fall 2-0 at Leicester City following Jamie Vardy's penalty and Riyad Mahrez's late strike.

"The board know my opinion about everything. It's not the best moment but the Premier League is 38 games, not only the last 10."

Silva, 40, joined the London club on a two-year deal in the off season after leaving relegated Hull City at the end of last season. He is the eighth Premier League manager to lose his job this season following changes at Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom and West Ham.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Struggling Watford sack Silva, appoint Gracia'. Print Edition | Subscribe