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Dyche victim of the brutal side of football
I'm going to write about the football club, and I’m going to get the main point in at the start. Sean Dyche has been treated appallingly.
Regardless of what you think about new owners, new money, new hopes, the glamour of Gianfranco Zola or anything else, an utter injustice has occurred.
Last year Dyche performed a fantastic feat, not just in avoiding relegation but in taking the team to a final position in the middle of the table.
Twelve months ago, Watford were many people’s favourites to be swept out of the Championship and down into League One.
Instead, and despite having to sell his best player halfway through the season, Dyche guided them to safety.
He did so against a backdrop of chaos.
While Watford the team thrived on organisation and determination, Watford the business seemed to have neither.
The chief executive was removed but not replaced; plans were made but never fulfilled.
At times, it seemed as if there was a greater interest and focus on opening that pub than on saving the club.
I’ve never met Laurence Bassini, although I’d be very happy to sit down and talk to him.
Maybe he could convince me that he always had the club’s best interests at heart, that he is a man more sinned against than sinning, and that he restructured the club with great aplomb.
His own recent statement, to this paper, said “I don't think people have given me a chance”, albeit he seemed to make a consistent effort to never meet his critics.
Still, he claims credit for putting in money, replanting the pitch, installing some loudspeakers and, of course, refurbishing the Yellow and Red Lion pub.
Bassini will have his supporters, who will claim he saved Watford from administration, but in the minds of most fans, I would suspect his name will be bracketed with those of Jack Petchey and Gianluca Vialli, as periods where the reserves of goodwill were pushed to their limit.
Amid it all, Dyche concentrated on the football.
I was sceptical when he was appointed, thinking Watford should have gone instead for someone with greater experience, and he proved me entirely wrong.
Dyche made a team that was, unquestionably, greater than the sum of its parts, which is the single most important way of analysing the success of any manager. And now he’s been sacked.
Football is brutal in this way. Plenty of people are, to all intents and purposes, sacked every day, but often it’s caged in soothing euphemisms about “pursuing other projects”.
But in football’s goldfish bowl, there’s no point pretending.
One minute you’re lacing the boot, the next minute you’re getting it.
Dyche would have had no reason to expect that his job was under threat until he heard the rumours coming from Italy of the Pozzo takeover, and their admiration for Zola.
And my guess is that poor Dyche then watched, helplessly, as it all unfolded in front of him, knowing that the end was nigh.
And what must have annoyed him particularly is the knowledge that Zola, for all his brilliance as a player and his ready smile and charisma, is by no means certain to be a better manager.
He is a more famous one, of course.
But football has a habit of exposing its great players as underwhelming bosses, as the likes of Bryan Robson, Diego Maradona, Roy Keane, Graeme Souness, Paul Gascoigne and John Barnes have all proved.
Regular readers will know that I split my loyalty between Watford and West Ham, so I’ve cheered manager Zola before.
During his time at West Ham, the Italian made two of the club’s all-time worst signings – Benni McCarthy, who turned out to be too fat to play and was given £1.4m to go away, and Savio Nsereko, who was signed for the best part of £10m and played one match.
The technical director of West Ham, who recommended these signings as well as such transient players as Fabio Daprela, David Di Michele, Diego Tristan and the excruciatingly awful Mido, was Gianluca Nani, while the chief executive who wrote the cheques was Scott Duxbury.
Now Zola, Nani and Duxbury are reunited at Vicarage Road.
This is not to condemn Zola before a ball has been kicked, nor to dismiss the ability of Duxbury and Nani, but there is work to be done before I am convinced that this is anything more than another false dawn.
The Pozzos have talked a good game, and their track record in scouting players is impressive, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.
We all want Watford to prosper both on and off the pitch, but I can’t bring myself to join the jubilation quite yet.
And there was something rather symbolic in the way Zola got stuck in traffic on the ring road on the way to Vicarage Road for his grand unveiling.
No police outriders here, Franco – this is not the Champions League, and there will be obstacles to overcome.
“We know England is a very different country to others and football has its own culture,” said the Pozzos original statement.
“We respect that enormously and we are aware how much the club means to its fans and the local community.”
As those words were being written, they were preparing to fire a proven manager and replace him with a celebrity as part of an Italian takeover.
If it works, many fans will forget what went before.
But I wonder how much time they really did spend considering the wishes of those “fans and the local community” when the likeable, passionate and talented Sean Dyche was being summarily fired?
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