The start of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign for Watford is giving fans serious cause for concern. Already on their second manager of the campaign, the team is failing to deliver and rooted to the bottom of the table, still looking for their first win of the season.
Last season the Hornets finished 11th in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final, giving supporters plenty of reasons to believe the club had built a solid platform on which to build, aiming to progress and perhaps keep pushing closer towards the European positions.
The form is so worrying that Watford is now amongst the Premier League betting favorites for relegation, priced at 6/4 as genuine candidates for the drop. Five defeats, two draws, just four goals scored and a whopping twenty conceded; the numbers are far from positive.
After three straight Premier League defeats were followed by a frustrating 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Newcastle United, the knee-jerk reaction by the board was to sack manager Javi Gracia, much to his inevitable dismay and surprise.
Gracia had enjoyed an excellent previous campaign, yet modern football is all about results and the Watford board felt it was time to push the eject button sooner, rather than wait any longer.
Turning to another Spaniard, and one returning for his second spell at Vicarage Road, Quique Sánchez Flores was handed the task of steering things in the right direction. Thus far, little seems to be changing for the better and Watford continue to struggle.
Full-time stats ?ﾟﾑﾀ pic.twitter.com/KuWYCHfLRK
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) September 15, 2019
In his first game in charge, Sánchez Flores led the team to a 2-2 draw against Arsenal at Vicarage Road. Watford impressively created 31 total shots on goal and arguably deserved to win the game, yet they couldn’t convert enough of them to earn more than the point gained.
Just as fans were perhaps beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, along came the match away at Manchester City. Utterly demolished by Pep Guardiola’s side, Watford were 5 goals behind inside just 18 minutes at the Etihad Stadium and utterly crushed 8-0 by full-time.
While the only win for Gracia this term before his sacking was the 3-0 EFL Cup win against Coventry City, the first victory for Sánchez Flores came in the same competition. The 2-1 win against Swansea City put Watford through to the next round, although their priorities lie elsewhere.
Despite dominating possession and getting off more shots on goal, the next Premier League encounter produced an all too familiar outcome. Beaten 2-0 away at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the wait for a first league victory of the 2019-20 campaign continues.
Hard work ✅
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) September 28, 2019
“Stick with us” was the message from Tom Cleverley via the official Watford FC website, calling on fans to be patient, insisting the team will keep battling to get the results needed to turn the corner. Meanwhile, the “need to work hard” was highlighted by Sánchez Flores, as the manager underlined aims to change the style of play.
Some fans have leveled criticism at a lack of quality signings during the summer. Performances thus far would suggest that even beyond the change of manager, they have a valid case for complaint, given that Watford invested surprisingly little on the back of last season.
This gives the impression that for now, Sánchez Flores will be guiding a team that’s limping towards the January transfer window, hoping to make two or three key signings that could turn their season around. They’re sorely needed if this campaign isn’t going to sting the hornets badly.