Vladimir Ivic set to take over at Watford

The Hornets controversially sacked manager Nigel Pearson with two games to go at the end of last season, with Hayden Mullins subsequently unable to save them from the drop.

With the growing mess continuing with Pearson’s exit, the Pozo family have moved quickly to get their house in order ahead of the new Championship season.

Ivic is a free agent after leaving Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv last month and he is expected to sign a three-year deal at Vicarage Road next week.

The Serbian has established a good reputation, with two league titles in Tel Aviv, following a successful stint in charge of Greek club PAOK Salonika.


Watford eye free agent Chey Dunkley

Dunkley was released by Wigan Athletic at the expiry of his contract last month, with the Latics’ season ending in relegation after a controversial 12 point deduction from the EFL due to the club entering administration.

The 28-year-old centre back has impressed at the DW Stadium in his three years there, and will no doubt be looking to find himself another Championship club.

Watford are said to be one of the clubs interested in picking up Dunkley on a free transfer, as the Hornets plan for an immediate return to the Premier League following their relegation to the second tier at the end of the season.

One of Dunkley’s strengths is the ability to be a threat at set pieces – his 34 career goals is a decent tally for a centre back.

However, although linked with a move to Vicarage Road, much like everything to do with Watford at the moment, it is all a bit uncertain.

Watford’s Troy Deeney linked with surprise Spurs move

The Hornets were relegated from the Premier League last month after 5 years in the division, with talismanic skipper Deeney crucial to their promotion to the top flight and subsequent half a decade stay there.

The 32-year-old forward hinted that his time at Vicarage Road may be coming to an end upon the club’s return to the Championship, but not many would have envisioned Deeney being linked to Tottenham.

Newspaper The Sun report that the veteran striker has been of interest to Spurs boss Jose Mourinho as a possible loan option for next season, following Troy Parrott’s loan switch to Millwall.

After 10 years at Watford, it is difficult to imagine Deeney in anything but a yellow Hornets shirt – and although the links to Tottenham come as a shock, strange things do happen in the transfer market, arguably accentuated in these testing times.

Former Watford manager keen on Hornets duo

That’s according to Spanish publication AS, who report the Watford duo are on the list of Gracia’s transfer targets at current club Valencia.

The La Liga outfit represent Gracia’s first managerial role since being releived of his Vicarage Road duties in September 2019.

The Spaniard led Watford to their first FA Cup final since 1984 – albeit ending in a crushing defeat to Manchester City – and the Hornets’ progression to the final was largely thanks to the endeavours of forward Gerard Deulofeu.

Deulofeu is currently recovering from surgery on a ligament injury in his home country and didn’t feature for Watford following the season’s resumption.

With the Hornets now preparing for life in the Championship, the vultures will be circling around their best players, with Kiko Femenia also in the crosshairs.

The 29-year-old right back is also reported to be a target for Valencia as Javi Gracia looks to improve on their 9th placed La Liga finish this season.

Watford 0-4 Manchester City: Hornets suffer hiding to suck them deeper into trouble

Watford’s interim head coach Hayden Mullins now knows they may need a positive result at Arsenal on Sunday to ensure the hard work done by Nigel Pearson – sacked last weekend – does not go to waste.

City immediately pinned the hosts back at Vicarage Road, but the first opportunity of the evening went to the Hornets with 11 on the clock.

Adrian Mariappa’s long throw was only partially cleared by Joao Cancelo and Will Hughes was first to the loose ball but snatched his effort well wide.

The visitors responded immediately and Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster produced a wonderful save to tip wide Rodri’s deflected effort from long range.

Watford made it to the drinks breaks without conceding; progress after they had been 5-0 down after 18 minutes at the Etihad in September.

The deadlock was eventually broken with 31 played by Raheem Sterling, who trapped Kyle Walker’s cross on the right with precision and smashed into the top corner to leave Ben Foster with no chance.

Once again the Hornets had conceded the opener – the ninth game in a row where they had shipped the first goal.

And nine minutes later it was 2-0 with the floodgates well and truly open despite the best efforts of Foster.

Sterling found space in the area and this time was clipped by Hughes, with referee Michael Oliver pointing to the spot.

Despite Kevin De Bruyne being on the pitch, the England international took responsibility and even though Foster made a fantastic save, Sterling was first to the loose ball and tapped home for his 29th goal of the season.

Phil Foden volleyed in for number three with 62 minutes on the clock, before Kevin De Bruyne edged closer to Thierry Henry’s Premier League assist record four minutes later.

The Belgian’s free-kick was headed home by Laporte at the back post to give City’s captain for the night assist number 19 of the top-flight campaign.

De Bruyne tried to move level with Henry’s record of 20 from the 2002-03 term during the final exchanges at Vicarage Road, but Watford managed to prevent any more damage to their goal difference.

Nevertheless it was a bad night for the Hornets, who head to Arsenal with relegation still a possibility.

Final score: Watford 0-4 Manchester City

Watford v Manchester City: Post-Pearson life begins for Hornets as they continue to fight for Premier League survival

Midway through Bournemouth’s vital Premier League clash with Southampton on Sunday afternoon, the shock news broke that Nigel Pearson will be leaving Watford Football Club with immediate effect.

Pearson’s departure comes with the club sitting in 17th, a place above the relegation zone, and with a 3 point cushion to those below them.

Suggestions are that manager Pearson and club director Gino Pozzo exchanged ‘frank views’ on the direction of the football club in the wake of the Hornets’ 3-0 demolition by fellow relegation candidates West Ham United last time out.

With it being so close to the end of the season and Pearson so close to completing the job he was brought in to do, the timing of the announcement made for surprising news, even for a club as erratic in the managerial department as Watford.

A club statement released yesterday by the Hornets broke their website – there was a server error because so many people were trying to read what was going on – and it was a rather brutal farewell.

A club statement read:

‘Watford FC confirms that Nigel Pearson has left the club with immediate effect. Hayden Mullins, with Graham Stack as his assistant, will take up the position of Interim Head Coach for the Hornets’ final two Premier League fixtures of the 2019/20 season. There will be no further club comment.’

Questions over whether Pearson was sacked or walked may well be answered in the evident absence of a thank you, as is often customary in statements of this ilk.

The former Leicester boss now joins Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores on the Vicarage Road scrapheap, with Hayden Mullins in caretaker charge for the second time this season.

The scrap to stay up is far but complete, despite the Hornets’ points advantage – particularly with their latest opponents Manchester City a wounded animal after their disappointing FA Cup exit on Saturday.

City were knocked out in the semi final at Wembley by Arsenal, who ended any thoughts of a second consecutive treble with a 2-0 win at the national stadium.

Pep Guardiola will perhaps be concerned at his side’s patchy form post-restart, with several emphatic victories polluted with occasional spluttering performances.

With an eye on next month’s resumption of the Champions League, the Spaniard is almost guaranteed to use the final two games of the Premier League campaign to fine tune his thoughts ahead of the clash with Real Madrid.

Not only are Watford without a manager heading in to the clash with City, they are also without the influential Gerard Deulofeu as he recovers from knee surgery in Spain.

Defender Daryl Janmaat is another absentee who won’t feature between now and the end of the season.

Interim boss Hayden Mullins will be sweating on the fitness of Troy Deeney, who limped off against West Ham last time out with fluid on the knee.

Etienne Capoue and Adam Masina are also touch and go for the game at Vicarage Road, having suffered knocks against the Hammers.

Manchester City won’t have Sergio Aguero at their disposal – he remains out with a knee issue – it remains to be seen whether he is fit in time for the return of the Champions League.

Reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has a knock – otherwise, Guardiola has a fully fit squad to choose from, and is likely to tinker in true Pep fashion.

Watford v Manchester City is a 6pm kick off on Tuesday, 21 July.