After five seasons in the Premier League, Watford have been relegated. A final day defeat to Arsenal sealed their fate following a tempestuous campaign full of turmoil, transition and instability, and few could argue they don’t deserve it.

Performances have predominantly not been anywhere near what supporters would consider to be good enough, as time after time, they have seen their team trudge away from defeats, well-beaten, and without having laid a glove on their opponents, while off the pitch, boardroom impatience has seen a league record three head coaches sacked by those in charge, who seem to have shied away from shouldering their share of the responsibility.

The truth is underinvestment had left the team underprepared for a league famed for its intense and unforgiving levels of competition and the outcome was underwhelming, to say the least.

From the day the season began it was clear that this team was going to struggle. A defeat to Brighton wouldn’t have been so difficult to stomach, had it not been such an abject one, but such showings soon became par for the course for a side with a Swiss-cheese defence and an attack that at times looked as sharp as custard.

It isn’t as if those problems weren’t predictable ones either. Following their dramatic FA Cup semi-final victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers last April, Watford limped towards the end of the season with a tepid run that saw them concede 18 from a run of seven games, in which the only win they picked up was against Championship-bound Huddersfield, scoring just five times in the process.

The club-record £30million spend on Ismaila Sarr papered over an otherwise unimpressive summer transfer window, with the frequently-sidelined Danny Welbeck brought in alongside the recently relegated Craig Dawson as the only defensive addition.

The problems on the pitch persisted, but despite having won just three games before the winter transfer window opened, while also sacking both Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores in the process, the chance to strengthen in January was also spurned with only Brazilian teenager Joao Pedro, who already had a pre-contract agreement signed with the club, and Ignacio Pussetto brought in.

The pair would go on to accrue fewer than 90 Premier League minutes between them from a handful of late substitute appearances. By that stage in the season, Watford had conceded 32 goals from 20 matches. Defensive reinforcements were clearly needed, but ignored by those responsible for recruitment, which is well known to not be one of the head coach’s duties at this club.

Those in the head coach hot seat are however responsible for setting the teams up and four different men have all had a go at getting something resembling a tune out of the players this season, with only one finding any real success. That man was sacked with two games of the campaign still to play.

Whether or not that suggests the club had simply hired the wrong coaches, or that the team itself was beyond the help that could be provided by anyone in the dugout is up for debate, but the instability caused by firing three individuals will almost certainly have played its part.

Following Gracia’s sacking after just four games, Craig Cathcart admitted the players couldn’t help but feel responsible for their slow start costing the man his job. If they’re still holding themselves accountable for such things, then the increasingly weighty burden on their shoulders could be an explanation for their sluggishness following the restart.

That feeling of guilt could at least be a contributing factor, but the truth is the team has looked disjointed and devoid of self-belief for the entirety of the season, save for a brief upturn in form following Nigel Pearson’s appointment in December.

In a quiet moment following a press conference head coach number two Quique Sanchez Flores admitted to members of the press that he didn’t have the confidence in his players to play the formation he would have liked and instead laboured with a defensive shape, with five at the back, that starved the team of any creativity going forward.

While Pearson was initially able to get the team working together as a unit, the same issues began to creep back in, with an anomalous victory over league champions Liverpool a rarity in the middle of 11 other games without a win.

Victories over Norwich and Newcastle seemed to give the Hornets some cause for optimism before a catastrophic night at the London Stadium saw Pearson canned and the inexperienced Hayden Mullins left with an impossible task on his hands in games against Manchester City and Arsenal. Watford caved in both, bringing the curtain down on their time in the Premier League for the time being.

With a truncated summer window opening tomorrow decisions must be made quickly ahead of next season. The aim will be stability at least, promotion at best, but whatever the goal is, it is clear a huge rebuild is needed. A borrowing facility has already been agreed to mitigate the financial shortfall they are now going to experience.

Regardless, the disinterested and the deadwood need to be shipped out and the talent the Hornets have on their books should be given a chance. Luis Suarez, Pervis Estupinan and Cucho Hernandez have all impressed around Europe recently and could provide some much-needed competition to a team whose first 11 has taken itself for granted for far too long.

With finances clearly something that need to be managed more carefully in England’s second tier, it seems baffling that Watford wouldn’t use the talent at their disposal where it is best suited – on the pitch.

What is clear is that whoever makes up their squad next season, expectation will be high, not least from those in charge, who need to hastily work out how they want to proceed, starting with the hiring of a new head coach who is capable of working under the club’s conditions, while getting some positivity back into a team that has spent the best part of a year in persistent gloom.

For now, there are so many unknowns surrounding Watford Football Club and it’s up to those in charge to not only find answers, but to find the right ones. Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Derby, Reading and swathes of others have proven that recovering from a relegation is never an easy thing to do.

The main goal now for Watford has to be making sure their name doesn’t end up on that list.