Malky Mackay reflects on first year as Watford manager

Malky Mackay has completed his first year in charge

Malky Mackay has completed his first year in charge

First published in Sport by

If you reflect on what has happened at Vicarage Road in the past 12 months it is not difficult to understand why Malky Mackay feels he has experienced more in his first year at the Hornets helm than some of his counterparts will go through in five times as long.

When the Scot was unveiled as Brendan Rodgers' successor a year ago this week he remarked that it would be an "interesting season". With the benefit of hindsight, the manager would probably regard that as something of an understatement now.

From dealing with bids for talismanic striker Tommy Smith within days of taking charge, to the sale of four key players, including the Player of the Season, at the end of August, to the dark days of the club being on the brink of administration at the end of the year, the former central defender had all this – and more – thrown at him, while trying to ensure his team remained as competitive as possible in the dog-eat-dog Championship.

"I think there are things that have happened in my first year that you wouldn't expect in five years of management which I suppose in the long run will be good for me," Mackay reflected prior to this week's anniversary.

"From going into the job and a month in, four of the starting XI had to leave which was a challlenge in itself as you then need to try and find players who can play in the Championship in the loan market, which isn't always easy, and I had to try and keep a level of experience in the team, which I knew we couldn't do.

"It was a challenge to try and get a squad which could compete at this level after losing Jobi McAnuff, Lee Williamson, Mike Williamson, Tommy Smith and Tamas Priskin.

"There was the ongoing financial difficulties which were well-documented and going on in the background all the time from my first meeting until the AGM in December. Up until then .....there was this on-going problem in the background to the point in December."

Looking back on one of the most traumatic periods in the club's history, Mackay continued: "I remember being down at the offices most nights and it is a case of where we were three or four hours from administration, so that was certainly something that was very testing for the senior management at the football club, as they tried to broker a deal to survive. At the same time you have to try and get on with it.

"You are then on to your second chairman in six months and there are the challenges on the pitch as well."

It looked promising, very promising for a while, on the pitch after a solid start to the season, but come the start of 2010 Watford's results had started to take a turn for the worse and that general trend was to continue to the point that relegation looked a genuine prospect, only for survival to be secured thanks to two uplifting results at the end of the campaign.

"We knew consistency was going to be a problem with this squad as the year went on," the Watford manager admitted. "The fact we had managed to do reasonably well up to Christmas helped.

"The staff realised it would be a big challenge to, a) keep the consistency going with this young squad and b) that the pitches would turn from December onwards and our football was going to suffer.

"We knew there were challenges ahead. I don’t think that January helped because of the three games called off because it pushed them into March and April which meant you were then playing catch-up and playing 12 games in six or seven weeks, which with a squad our our size and experience catches up with you.

"If you have the squad of a Newcastle of West Brom, then you can shuffle it about a bit but we were having to put out our best XI at all times.

"We had a great injury record until we started playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. I think that is when it caught up with us.

"We then dropped down the league and the main aim was to simply stay in the division. We were working hard enough to reach the 52 points but the amount of games didn't help.

"To finish the way we did emphatically the last two weeks and be able blood the youngsters helped immensely.

"On the last day of the season, 11 of the squad were from the Academy which says a lot about our youth set up."

Comments (7)

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3:09pm Sat 19 Jun 10

stevyweavy says...

Well at least you know what you have got to work with this season as a core and let's hope we can add a bit of extra talent before the start of the season either through intelligent bargain basement purchases or the loan market.
Well at least you know what you have got to work with this season as a core and let's hope we can add a bit of extra talent before the start of the season either through intelligent bargain basement purchases or the loan market. stevyweavy
  • Score: 0

5:36pm Sun 20 Jun 10

fairwater says...

Well done Malky for keeping us up in such trying circumstances.
Good Luck for this season. I think you are going to need it!
Well done Malky for keeping us up in such trying circumstances. Good Luck for this season. I think you are going to need it! fairwater
  • Score: 0

8:39pm Sun 20 Jun 10

WFC4ever says...

Shame he has to work in such difficult circumstances for the 1st job!

Most experience managers would find it tough.

I did wish he'd make less excuses at times but maybe Malky wants to protect the squad from PUBLIC criticism...afterall most are young and the last thing they need is the manager not believing in them.
Shame he has to work in such difficult circumstances for the 1st job! Most experience managers would find it tough. I did wish he'd make less excuses at times but maybe Malky wants to protect the squad from PUBLIC criticism...afterall most are young and the last thing they need is the manager not believing in them. WFC4ever
  • Score: 0

8:51am Mon 21 Jun 10

Chris the Vic says...

A job well done...albeit some of your substitutions left me cold and the timing of them were questionable but overall so glad you are still with us Malky.
A job well done...albeit some of your substitutions left me cold and the timing of them were questionable but overall so glad you are still with us Malky. Chris the Vic
  • Score: 0

8:59am Mon 21 Jun 10

Beds Hornet says...

Getting Eustace re-signed is the best bit of business you've done so far. Please, a couple more loanees of the Lansbury/Cleverley ilk and no more Scottish lower league fodder.... plus a little more nous/less predictability with substitutions would go a long way IMO.
In Malky we trust - COYH!!
Getting Eustace re-signed is the best bit of business you've done so far. Please, a couple more loanees of the Lansbury/Cleverley ilk and no more Scottish lower league fodder.... plus a little more nous/less predictability with substitutions would go a long way IMO. In Malky we trust - COYH!! Beds Hornet
  • Score: 0

9:08am Mon 21 Jun 10

davidjohnbarnard says...

Re-signing JE will turn out to be the best business MM has done if he plays like he did last season. My only criticsm of MM is that when the game isnt going to plan A, Plan B is non existant. I would love for example after a poor first half for the players to come out for the second half with a new approach/new tactics - even if it doesnt work at least the fans can see he tried to change things
Re-signing JE will turn out to be the best business MM has done if he plays like he did last season. My only criticsm of MM is that when the game isnt going to plan A, Plan B is non existant. I would love for example after a poor first half for the players to come out for the second half with a new approach/new tactics - even if it doesnt work at least the fans can see he tried to change things davidjohnbarnard
  • Score: 0

11:56am Mon 21 Jun 10

rookerynook says...

All credit to Malky for what he achieved last season, and for the loanees that he was able to attract, but I still think he would benefit from a wise old head who could give him advice independent of any self-interest.

It would also help to have another pair of eyes sitting in the stand, and so getting a different perspective to that from the touch-line.

I'm quietly confident that, with some fresh blood to replace the players we've lost, we'll do OK this season. COYH!
All credit to Malky for what he achieved last season, and for the loanees that he was able to attract, but I still think he would benefit from a wise old head who could give him advice independent of any self-interest. It would also help to have another pair of eyes sitting in the stand, and so getting a different perspective to that from the touch-line. I'm quietly confident that, with some fresh blood to replace the players we've lost, we'll do OK this season. COYH! rookerynook
  • Score: 0

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