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McKinlay inherits buzzing Hornets as Garcia stands aside

Oscar Garcia has had to step down as Watford head coach on grounds of ill-health, and the Hornets, who are 3/1 chances with Coral to be promoted from the Championship, have replaced him with former Fulham backroom servant Billy McKinlay.

It is a chance for the Scot, who is assistant to Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill but expected to step down from that, to carve out his own reputation in management. McKinlay becomes the latest in a long line of Glaswegians to get the main role in a Football League or Premier League dugout.

Watford currently sit fourth in the table, despite Garcia’s short, 27-day reign and hospitalisation following chest pains, so the uncertainty surrounding his future has not affected things overmuch.

In fact, Garcia brought McKinlay to the club, knowing he could need a successor. “I was closely involved with the appointment of Billy McKinlay, because I was aware that I may not be able to return.” the Spaniard said. “I always wanted an experienced British coach within our set-up, because it’s important to have that mix of cultures and experience with this squad.”

That is exactly what the Hornets have now. Having worked under the likes of Roy Hodgson and Martin Jol, McKinlay will have learned plenty as he prepares for his bow against Brentford. Watford are odds-on at 19/20 to take three points on their new boss’ debut and maintain their fine form.

Losing first Troy Deeney, last season’s top scorer and a proven marksman at Championship level, to injury and then Garcia had the potential to destabilise the Hornets, especially as predecessor Giuseppe Sannino walked away from Vicarage Road.

Things have panned out quite different in Hertfordshire, however, as Watford have lost just one league game this season so far. It’s just ironic that defeat to Charlton Athletic was the only match Garcia presided over.