Head-To-Head: Marco Silva vs Mauricio Pellegrinoby Chloe Beresford / 12 January 2018, 14:05Tweet
How quickly things change in football.
It was only back in November when Watford boss Marco Silva was being touted as the next Everton manager, with the Hornets having taken 15 points from their opening 11 matches. Reports at the time suggested that the Toffees offered £10 million in compensation for the young Portuguese boss, before eventually opting to steady the ship with the ever-reliable Sam Allardyce.
Now having played 22 games, Watford sit in 10th with just 25 points, and talk has turned from Silva being snatched away by the Merseyside outfit to rumours that he may even be sacked. Of course it must be taken into account that the club’s Italian owners have been notoriously trigger-happy since their arrival in Hertfordshire five years ago.
The Pozzo family – who also own Udinese in Serie A – have gone through nine different managers during their five year tenure, showing that they are certainly not afraid to wield the axe.
Yet Silva – despite his relative inexperience – has not been afraid to stand up to those in charge, publicly voicing the desperate need for reinforcements in the January window. Despite having lost six of the last seven matches, Silva has made it clear that he expects the club to do their part after he felt they missed out on key targets in the summer.
“I hope we get players in early. We are working, the board knows what I expect as well,” the boss told the Watford Observer.
“It’s really important the problems that we have in our squad at the moment, having more players available for the next match is important. But my job is to work with the players we have in the squad, develop them as much as I can and I hope we can improve in some important positions for us.”
The Coach will be without Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Younes Kaboul, Kiko Femenía, Will Hughes, Tommie Hoban and Miguel Britos as the Hornets host a struggling Southampton at Vicarage Road on Saturday, so fans will be hoping that the boss can turn around results with the resources he currently has available.
Meanwhile in the away camp, Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino is now the favourite to receive the sack next in the Premier League. Southampton have failed to win in their last nine top-flight encounters and are currently hanging on outside the relegation zone by goal difference only.
They too will look to reinforce during the current transfer window – their kitty replenished with the £75 million from the sale of Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool – with the emphasis very much on signing a new striker. While their backline will undoubtedly be weakened by the sale of such a quality player, they must start scoring goals sooner rather than later.
Having netted just 21 times all season, Charlie Austin remains their top scorer with six strikes, but the 28-year-old remains sidelined until at least the end of the month with a hamstring injury. Pellegrino will have to find a way to get the Saints firing again, and has made it clear he understands the importance of Saturday’s encounter with Watford.
“It is a massive game for us. We are better prepared than at the beginning of the season, said the Coach to Sky, referring to a 2-0 defeat to the Hornets suffered at St Mary’s early in the campaign.
“Watford is a team that have qualities like us but now I feel that we have learned a little bit from this game and we have better preparations. The mood is good but we want to translate this onto the pitch.”
Pellegrino may be nearer to the axe than Saturday’s counterpart, but a seventh defeat in eight for Silva would certainly land him in hot water with his Italian employers. All eyes will immediately look to Liverpool versus Manchester City for the glamour fixture of the weekend, but Watford’s clash with Southampton is bound to have ramifications in the Premier League Sack Race.