Watford “hypocrisy” serves as first warning to new boss after Forest Green backlash

Rob Edwards must have thought long and hard about it.

The decision to leave behind a team on the up, albeit having only been there for a season, and take up one of the hotseats with the shortest lifespan in English football must not have been easy.

He knew the criticism of his decision to jilt Forest Green Rovers would come. So too will likely follow the detractors who insists he will be out of a job by Christmas given Watford’s knack of hiring and firing multiple managers per season. The key now for Edwards is to block out all of that noise as he attempts to do something which no Hornets’ manager has had the privilege of being able to do for well over a decade: try to build solid foundations within the club.

The last man to manage more than 100 games for the club was Aidy Boothroyd, whose spell lasted from March 2005 to November 2008.

Since then there have been a few appointments that worked but plenty have not. The lack of longevity and in some cases ruthlessness of the owners has not endeared Watford to many neutral fans.

Edwards becomes the eighth different man to occupy the dugout at Vicarage Road in just four seasons. Since the Pozzo family acquired ownership a decade ago they have swapped bosses no fewer than 16 times.

But this latest appointment does signal a different approach. It is a young, English manager plucked from the EFL rather than an out-of-work left-field appointment that the club’s fans are now accustomed to.

Edwards has signed a two-year deal with an option of a third. The confirmation led to plenty of criticism from Forest Green chairman and owner Dale Vince. Speaking to the BBC, Vince said: “I think the rumours had been going on for a week or so. We kept saying to the media that asked us, look we’ve heard nothing from Watford and if this was happening then Rob would have spoken to us.

Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince was far from happy with the manner of head coach Rob Edwards' departure

Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince was far from happy with the manner of head coach Rob Edwards’ departure

“It’s poor from Rob and he knows it. But we are where we are. It turns out there were secret negotiations that were completed last night. I thought I knew him better as a person. I was convinced it wasn’t happening. It’s just disappointing really. Rob is a talented coach and we knew one day he would get a big opportunity that would take him away. We expected that but it’s the manner of it.”

Simon Jordan, the former Crystal Palace owner-turned-pundit also criticised the Hornets and pointed to the example of Marco Silva being poached by Everton back in 2018, saying: “This is a club that screamed the roof down when Everton went after their manager .. Now they do the same to a newly-promoted club … what’s the word for that? Hypocrisy.”

Outgoing Watford manager Roy Hodgson believes Edwards will prove a success at Vicarage Road

Outgoing Watford manager Roy Hodgson believes Edwards will prove a success at Vicarage Road

The big task Edwards will face as he tries to build a group capable of winning promotion straight back to the top flight, is undoubtedly getting the time to do so.

He hit the ground running at Rovers, delivering easy-on-the-eye football that delivered a league title. Being expected to do the same two divisions higher will not be an easy task but he does at least have the blessing and backing of current incumbent Roy Hodgson.

“They are appointing a talented young coach,” Hodgson said of Edwards’ impending arrival. “I wish him well and I think he will have seen enough in that group to believe he can get this team back in the Premier League.”

The owners of Watford perhaps now understand that their previous approach is neither sustainable or appropriate. The decision to hire Edwards is a bold one but they now need to buck another trend and grant him the precious commodity of time.

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