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Will unpredictable Watford beat the drop next season?

Watford bounced back to the Premier League at the first attempt following their relegation from the top flight in the 2019/20 campaign. The Hornets pulled no punches in their ambition by sacking Vladimir Ivic during their promotional run and replacing the Serbian with Xisco Munoz, who aided their meteoric rise from the Championship.

The club now has to battle to remain in the top flight, and their uncompromising style regarding managers will come under the spotlight. Xisco’s men are one of the leading contenders to be relegated in the football betting with odds of 1/1, but their experience in the top division will be worth its weight in gold if they are to avoid this fate. The Spaniard knows that his future will depend on Watford’s success as the club’s hierarchy will not look favourably upon the manager if they’re languishing near the foot of the table, even in the early stages of the campaign.

Since Marco Silva left Vicarage Road in January 2018, the Hornets have gone through six permanent managers. In their last campaign in the Premier League alone, Watford went through four managers on the touchline, ending the season with Hayden Mullins overseeing their relegation to the Championship. It’s a risk-reward strategy, and although it served the Hornets well for five of their six seasons in the Premier League on their last visit, their scattergun approach to management eventually led to their demise.

Xisco does have a lot of talent at his disposal, which should allow the Hornets to hit the ground running. Ismaila Sarr was a standout in the Premier League for the club in the 2019/20 campaign. They managed to retain the services of the Senegalese star in the second tier.

It was clear that he was a cut above, scoring 13 goals and notching four assists in 39 appearances. He was the driving force behind their surge back to the top flight and, at the age of 23, is just scratching the surface of his potential. Sarr could take the top flight by storm next term and is very much a player in the mould of his compatriot Sadio Mane. Should he match the performances of the Liverpool man, Watford will be very well placed to avoid the drop.

Joao Pedro’s development will also be fascinating to watch after an outstanding first term in England. The Brazilian notched nine goals, and will only improve with more time on the field. Skipper Troy Deeney also remains, and although he is not the player he was five years ago, he cannot be overlooked for his physical presence and leadership ability, which has held the team together amid the turnover in the dugout. In terms of striking prowess, Watford is well catered for to match at least teams in the bottom half of the Premier League.

Xisco must also ensure the rearguard is on form as much as the final third. The Spaniard faces a challenge as the pools of talent are not quite as deep, although William Troost-Ekong and Christian Kabasele could form a decent tandem in the middle of the defence. Danny Rose was signed to provide experience and nous on the left flank. However, further reinforcements will be required to shore up the unit.

Xisco will be under pressure from the off. Watford’s owners will not be wishing to be embroiled in a bitter relegation battle throughout the term. Teams such as Leeds United have set the bar for sides rising out of the Championship, and no side has higher expectations of their managers than the Hornets.

Failure will not be tolerated and football tipsters are predicting Watford to survive and thrive.