Watford have appointed Chris Wilder as their first head coach following the dismissal of Slaven Bilic.
After just six months in charge of the Hornets, the Croatian has been relieved of his duties. With just three wins since Christmas, Watford is four points away from reaching the playoffs. Approximately seventeen minutes after Bilic’s departure was confirmed, Wilder was named the team’s new manager.
A contract has been offered to the former Sheffield United and Middlesbrough manager at Vicarage Road until the end of the season. He will begin work at the club immediately.
Throughout the past decade, Watford’s owner, the Pozzo family, has had a significant churn of managers. Wilder’s arrival continues that trend. The 55-year-old has become the club’s 18th full-time manager since July 2012 and ensures the club returns to the top flight.
Wilder is Watford’s ninth full-time manager since Javi Gracia’s departure in September 2019. Since Gracia was sacked four months after taking the club to the FA Cup final, Quique Sánchez Flores, Nigel Pearson, Vladimir Ivic, Xisco Muñoz, Claudio Ranieri, Roy Hodgson, and Rob Edwards are those who have had spells in the dugout.
Ben Manga, the club’s technical director, said: “We are all ambitious to succeed this season, so something new is needed quickly while the opportunity for promotion is still real. With the January transfer window over, changing coaches is the only option to re-energise for the final games ahead.”
Bilic took over from the sacked Edwards in late September with the club in 10th, but he served less than six months of his 18-month deal, with his final match a goalless home draw against Preston last weekend. Watford are 26 points behind leaders Burnley and four points adrift of Norwich, who occupy the final playoff position.