Watford have sacked Quique Sánchez Flores and could hire Chris Hughton in what will be the club’s second managerial change of the season already.
Flores’s job was hanging by a thread after Watford’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton with patience at boardroom level having snapped with the Spaniard, who had failed to reverse the side’s slump since returning to Vicarage Road in September. The 54-year-old won only one of his 10 league games since replacing Javi Gracia, who was sacked after a poor start to the season. Following the defeat at St Mary’s Watford are bottom of the Premier League and six points from safety.
“With regret, Watford Football Club confirms the departure of Quique Sánchez Flores,” read a statement from chief executive and chairman Scott Duxbury. “Quique is a man of great integrity and it was clear how much he wanted to have a positive impact, but ultimately results have dictated our decision.
“The appointment of a new head coach is imminent, and with nearly two-thirds of the season remaining, we will provide all the support necessary to make the coming months successful.”
Watford’s board started interviewing candidates last week and it is thought that Hughton has a good chance of being given the job. He has been out of work since being fired by Brighton at the end of last season and he is keen to land a role at a Premier League side. He turned down an offer to join Cardiff City, who are 10th in the Championship, earlier this season.
Hughton would offer Watford stability after a troubled spell. The 60-year-old is respected within the game and he did well at Brighton, winning them promotion to the Premier League in 2017 and keeping them safe from relegation for two seasons. However Hughton, who has also had spells at Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle, was replaced by Graham Potter after Brighton’s form nose dived towards the end of his reign at the Amex Stadium.
Watford desperately need to make the right appointment. Gracia took them to the FA Cup final and finished 11th last season but he struggled at the start of this campaign, picking up one point from his first four league games. He was replaced by Flores, who was sacked by Watford at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Flores was unable to make a positive impact. His tactics were deemed negative and he failed to convince his players that he was the right man. He did not win a league game until last month’s victory at Norwich City and the defeat by Southampton proved the final straw for an anxious hierarchy.