Championship manager changeovers for Cardiff and Watford
Watford appoint fourth manager of the season
There is a fourth man in the Vicarage Road hot seat in 37 days.
Though the season is only eleven league games deep, Watford have tendered the resignation of Beppe Sannino, seen his replacement Oscar Garcia step down because of health problems and witness his hand-picked successor Billy McKinlay sacked. Finally they herald the appointment of Slavisa Jokanovic from Spanish third-tier side Hercules.
Despite the tumultuous board room, Watford find themselves joint-top on 21 points with Norwich City and Nottingham Forest, third on goal difference.
The quality and experience in their playing squad has led the Hornets to their lofty position thus far, but it can’t be understated what some stability and continued guidance could do for them.
Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury, said: “In Billy McKinlay, we have someone with the qualities and significant experience to build further on the foundations already laid for a successful season ahead.”
That notion was tested as far as two undefeated games.
Hornet’s owner Gino Pozzo offered an explanation on his decision to hire 46-year-old Jokanovic, stating on the club’s official website: “Our job is always to act in the best long-term interests of this football club. There can be no compromise on this – whatever the circumstances.”
Watford’s definition of long-term is certainly up for debate. Still, they’re priced at 5/2 to achieve promotion to the Premier League either automatically or via the play-offs, making them fifth-favourites at this juncture.
Not bad, considering the turmoil the club has imposed on itself behind the scenes. If ex-Chelsea man Jokanovic is given a fair run, it will be interesting to see if he can transfer his success on the continent into a notoriously challenging and unpredictable league like the Championship.
In the former Yugoslav and Serbia and Montenegro international’s managerial career, he has led Partizan Belgrade to an unprecedented ‘double double’ in the Serbian League – the SuperLiga and Serbian Cup – which displays a knowhow for results.
Russell Slade takes over at Cardiff City
Speaking of unstable boardrooms, Vincent Tan is at it again over at Cardiff City.
As if the sacking of former fan favourite Malky Mackay last season wasn’t enough, which led to their eventual relegation too, Tan has now ousted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and replaced him with former Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade.
Slade did a stellar job with The O’s, rising them from the brink of relegation to survive by a solitary point in his first season. Back-to-back seventh-place finishes followed before finishing third last season and cruelly losing to Rotherham on penalties in the play-off final.
After a promising start, the Bluebirds have tailed off to 15th in the table and despite the obvious quality in their ranks have found form especially hard to come by, winning only one of their last eight league games.
Given the Welsh side’s troubles on the pitch now reflect the eccentric and erratic Tan, Coral have Cardiff pencilled in at 9/1 for promotion. Their chances of finishing in the top six at present look slim given the spread of talented teams in the Championship, and Slade will have to equip himself to the new nuanced demands that his four years in League One may not have truly braced him for.
Tan said of Slade’s arrival: “Look at Russell’s track record. He certainly deserves to be given a chance.”
How much of a chance Slade will be given is open to interpretation. It’s probable that Tan still expects a return to the affluent world of the Premier League this season, when really he should really be encouraging Slade to stabilise and solidify the club after a couple of erratic years.
Interestingly, Coral have Cardiff at 25/1 for relegation come May 2015. Slade may well have proved to be an efficient man-motivator in his time in London, yet he never actually achieved promotion in his time at the helm, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
Is he the man to give Tan the success he demands? Or will the decline continue at the Cardiff City Stadium?
Tan was somewhat contradictory in his outlook, saying: “After all, Cardiff gave a chance to a mediocre manager from Watford (Mackay) and he took the Club to the Premier League.
“I did, however, give him a lot of money to spend for that – in fact, too much money.”
Slade’s time with Orient is all the endorsement the new manager needs, even if he is just a “mediocre” manager.