Hayden Mullins and two other alternative options to succeed Quique Sanchez Flores at Watford

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 05 December 2019, 15:04

After Watford sacked Javi Gracia it took the club all of 30 minutes to unveil his successor, Quique Sanchez Flores, who was subsequently axed just three months into his second-spell.

The Hornets’ search for their third head coach of the season is now into its fifth day with few indicators that the Premier League’s basement outfit have anyone lined-up.

We’ve already seen the likes of Quique Setien, Chris Hughton, Sabri Lamouchi, Sam Allardyce and Mark Hughes linked with the post - Marco Silva is remarkably a 33/1 shot - but here are a trio of alternative options in the next Watford manager market...

Hayden Mullins

Not the most ‘out there’ suggestion considering Hayden Mullins is already at the club as interim head coach, but he’s already overseen one game - a 2-0 defeat to high-flying Leicester - and The Athletic’s Adam Leventhal has confirmed that he will be given at least one more chance to prove his credentials.

The Pozzo family have made 10 managerial appointments at Watford - Sanchez was appointed twice - yet none have been English. In fact, they swiftly sacked Englishman Sean Dyche upon their arrival at Vicarage Road, while Billy McKinlay (Scottish) was the only British appointment, although he was axed after just eight days.

A switch from the norm could therefore be on the cards, especially if Mullins can orchestrate a victory over Crystal Palace, his former club. Judging from the insightful videos Watford have been posting - see below - what Mullins lacks in managerial experience he more than makes up for in passion, spirit and determination - three attributes Watford desperately need to draw upon at this moment in time. 

“A typical English coach,” goalkeeper Ben Foster said on Mullins. “That’s exactly what you need - that fight, grit and determination you need to instil into the lads when confidence is low like it is - you need as much of that as possible.”

A more simplistic back-to-basics approach is what’s needed, and Mullins' in-depth knowledge of the current squad and the U23s could prove invaluable - the youth team are top of the Professional Development League South table - and at 25/1 he represents decent value.

Lee Bowyer

A young English manager who adopts an attack-minded style of play. 

“When I was at Watford I brought Bow in for a spell and he was fantastic because as a player he was a midfielder that I enjoyed playing with,” Harry Kewell told The Sack Race in October.

“He was able to do the hard work but play as well, so I brought him in especially to look at my midfield at that time, and he helped me out. I learnt things of him.”

Lee Bowyer has since made significant waves in the managerial arena, having led Charlton up to the Championship on a shoestring budget.

The Addicks enjoyed a superb start to the current campaign but have recently dipped of late, although they have been ravaged by injuries and are only eight points off the prized play-offs.

Making the jump up into the Premier League dugout - in testing circumstances - is a big step but Bowyer, who has learnt a lot in a short time as manager, isn’t short on confidence and would back himself to propel Watford out of the mire.

He's a massive 66/1 shot...

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Could Lee Bowyer return to Watford as head coach?

Luciano Spalletti

We couldn’t do this list without including a former Udinese head coach.

In his second-spell at the club Luciano Spalletti proved to be one of the most successful and longest-serving - three years - of the Pozzo family appointments, with the Italian defying the odds by leading the club to 4th in the 2004/05 Serie A season, and thus Champions League qualification. However, the Pozzo’s were left crushed after the coach decided to switch jobs.

Spalletti went on to be crowned the 2006 and 2007 Serie A Coach of the Year at Roma, where he won back-to-back 2007 and 2008 Coppa Italias, and tasted Supercoppa Italian glory in 2007. He would later return to the club and achieve a 2nd-place finish in 2017.

He’s also been a success outside of his homeland with Zenit, where he won two league titles, a domestic cup and Super Cup. Meanwhile, his last spell was at Inter Milan, a post he held for two years through to the summer despite consecutive top-4 finishes.

Admittedly, considering the last few clubs Spalletti has managed, Watford could be considered a backwards step for the  Italian tactician, but that’s not to say it's completely out of the question. He’s currently out-of-work, has links to the Pozzo family, and no doubt holds ambitions of testing himself in the Premier League - an intriguing 16/1 shot.

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Daryl McMahon
Daryl McMahon
(Macclesfield Town)
2nd January
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