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What next for Watford following their relegation from the Premier League?
The Hornets have returned to the Championship.
Watford have been relegated for the second time in three years after a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Hornets went into the game knowing they were already all but down and their fate was confirmed with three games of the season to go.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what went wrong over the course of the season.
How bad was it?
Three managers and just six league wins, including only two since November, tell their own story. Watford won their opening game of the season 3-2 against Aston Villa, but they have tasted victory just once more at home all campaign – 4-1 over Manchester United – and went into the Palace game on a five-match losing run. Despite having quality up front in the likes of Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis, none of Xisco Munoz, Claudio Ranieri and Roy Hodgson have been able to get their best out of the squad.
Where did the problems lie?
Defence has been the biggest problem, having conceded 70 goals in 35 games. They have only kept three clean sheets in the league and only one of those games resulted in a win.
At the other end of the pitch, Dennis, a summer signing from Club Brugge, started the season in impressive fashion and has hit 10 league goals this term – a more than decent return for a player in his first season in English football and playing for a team battling relegation – but his form has tailed off since the turn of the year. He has netted just two since then. No one else has managed more than five goals. Home form in particular was been an issue, with just seven points won at Vicarage Road from 17 games, comfortably the worst in the division.
What about the recruitment?
Dennis had been by far the most effective acquisition. Moussa Sissoko, signed from Tottenham, has been steady if unspectacular in midfield, but defender Hassane Kamara has been the only one of their January signings to make a noticeable impact, though he was sent off at Palace. The fact that Watford changed managers during the winter transfer window did not help matters.
What happened with the managers?
Watford have operated a revolving-door policy when it comes to head coaches and it appears to have done them few favours this term, hindering their ability to establish a cohesive and settled system. Munoz only lasted until October, Ranieri was in the hotseat for little more than three months and Hodgson has been unable to inspire the revival he was brought in to achieve.
Finding a new head coach for the Championship campaign is the first priority, with Hodgson leaving at the end of the season, but it seems unlikely that Watford’s owners will fundamentally change their approach to hiring and firing. The biggest problem for the new man in charge is set to be holding on to the likes of Dennis and Sarr, who are likely to have plenty of admirers, both in the Premier League and abroad. The Hornets bounced straight back the last time they went down and will be hoping to repeat the feat.