Watford 2019/20 Review: End of Season Report Card for the Hornets

Watford don't do themselves any favours, do they?

Another Premier League season, four different managers, boardroom unrest, and a relegation that was probably overdue.

Their five consecutive seasons in the top flight have been full of bizarre signings, countless managerial sackings, and Troy Deeney telling us what he thinks, so it's not been dull by any means.

Javi Gracia paid the price for a less than impressive start to the season

Let's take a look at the rather torrid tale of the tape for the Hornets this season.

League Performance

Premier League - 19th

Ben Foster shipped eight goals against City on a miserable afternoon

Watford began the 2019/20 season in terrible fashion, losing three out of their first four games, leading to the sacking of Gracia in early September. While it was sad to see the manager who had guided them to the FA Cup final the previous season depart, it was hardly a surprise considering the club's record of impatience with managers.

Former boss Quique Sanchez Flores was assigned the task of getting the Hornets back on track but one look at his last spell at the club would tell you it may have been doomed from the start. He oversaw an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City and just one victory during his entire two month return.

You couldn't really blame the worried Watford owners for making another change in December, when they brought in survival expert Nigel Pearson.

Watford provided one of the biggest upsets of the season

Initially, it seemed to be working as Watford went unbeaten throughout the busy Christmas period and the likes of Ismaila Sarr, Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure played themselves into form.

A miserable February followed before their best performance of the season, shocking champions Liverpool with a remarkable 3-0 win at Vicarage Road to send them out of the relegation zone once more just before the lockdown began.

Following the restart, it just didn't click for Pearson's side, with poor defensive errors and key injuries to Deeney and playmaker Gerard Deulofeu effecting their attacking output drastically.

Deeney's return seemed to give them renewed hope of staying in the league but after defeat to relegation rivals West Ham with two games to go, Pearson was unbelievably shown the door and it was left to Hayden Mullins to oversee the final two defeats that sent Watford back to the Championship.

Domestic Cup Performance

Carabao Cup - Fourth Round

Watford crashed out to Everton at Goodison Park

Despite their dreadful league form, Watford managed to string together consecutive wins in the Carabao Cup to reach the fourth round.

However, they were both against lower league opposition in Coventry and Swansea, so it was hardly an achievement of note. Their run came to an end on Merseyside, as Everton ran out 2-0 winners.

FA Cup - Third Round

Tranmere eventually overcame Watford at the third time of asking

Watford failed to progress past the third round of the FA Cup after two fixtures against League One Tranmere Rovers.

The first finished 3-3 at Vicarage Road before the initial replay was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The eventual replay - where Pearson rested several first team regulars - was heading for penalties with the sides locked at 1-1, before Connor Jennings nicked an extra-time winner for the Rovers to dump the Hornets out.

Best Player

Ismaila Sarr

Watford FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League

Few players have shown real star quality for Watford this season, but Sarr is an exception. The 22-year-old Senegalese winger caught the eye on countless occasions, hitting two and assisting another in the famous win over Liverpool.

He wasn't able to find the same form after the restart, but he has more than made his mark this season. He could depart Vicarage Road this summer, with Jurgen Klopp's victorious Reds linked with him thus far.

Worst Player

Andre Gray

Andre Gray had a stinker

Gray takes this award, not just for his performances on the pitch but those off it. Featuring in 27 league games and scoring just twice didn't do anything to compensate for Deeney's absence and it represented slim pickings for a player who really should have done better.

Then there was his flouting of lockdown rules by hosting a birthday party for over 20 mates when his side was fighting relegation. He issued half an apology and was barely seen again during the run-in.

The Manager(s)

What more is there to say? The decision to change the manager not just once, not twice, not even three, but four times, even by Watford's standards, was baffling and ludicrous.

Pearson can certainly feel the most aggrieved of the three dispatched bosses this season, having done his very best to keep Watford up. He may well have done so, had the hierarchy not made another reckless decision.

The real question now, as the Hornets face Championship football next season, is who on earth would want the job?

Overall Grade: F

Only Norwich performed worse this season and for that Watford deserved to go. They were not helped by rash decision making, failing players and a clueless owner, but results were well below previous seasons and the squad looked aged and tired.

It could be a long road ahead for the Vicarage Road faithful, but it's hard to feel sympathetic with the club; this was self-destruction all the way.

Source : 90min