Was Watford’s decision to sack Marco Silva justified?

The recent sacking of Marco Silva certainly came as a surprise to the majority of the football community – undoubtedly the most unanticipated of the season so far.


One win in eleven league games sees Watford lie 10th in the table. But it was Everton’s approach for Silva that began the Hornet’s poor run of form.


His desire to replace Ronald Koeman as Everton manager, after just nine league games at Watford, changed his relationship with the club, the players and fans, in a way that never recovered.




Cast your mind back to October. When Everton first approached Silva, Watford were fifth, having just beaten Arsenal. He was proving his strongest critics wrong once again.


The Portuguese boss was ambitious. He wanted a pay rise, a bigger transfer budget and ultimately, to join a bigger club.


His pursuit of the Everton job ultimately came at a cost for Silva, who was sacked last week, but was it the right decision by the Watford board?


Sacking a manager mid-way through a season isn’t unheard of, but what does history tell us? Has it been beneficial for Premier League clubs in recent seasons?


Let’s take a look….


Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace




It was a rather catastrophic start to the season for Crystal Palace under Frank De Boer – a partnership that promised so much. Four games in – no wins, no goals, and after 77 days in charge and a blink or you’ll miss it tenure, De Boer was shown the door.


Many deemed his dismissal unfair, due to Steve Parish seeking to oversee an ‘evolution [at the club] over a period of time.” No such time was given to the former Dutch international.


In stepped Roy Hodgson, an appointment that was ridiculed on social media, questioned in the press, and as a result Palace were consigned to the drop.  


Former Palace star John Salako told BBC Radio 5 live, “I think they’ve panicked, I think they’ve pushed the button too early.”


The decision to appoint Hodgson has proved to be a good one – despite a slow start under the former England boss. Crystal Palace now sit 13th in the Premier League, and have collected 25 points from 20 games with Roy at the helm, including five wins and five draws in their last 12 league games. He’s brought a pragmatism to the team and given them a solid platform from which to build on, alongside a creative freedom and strong worth ethic in Zaha amongst others.


It will be interesting to see how their recent January recruits adapt to life at Selhurst Park…


Verdict: Hit


Sam Allardyce to Everton




What do you do when your club loses its main goal scorer and talisman up front? You replace them immediately. Ronald Koeman failed in the process, and instead spent a small fortune on Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford and Gylfi Sigurdsson – none of whom have starred to date. Poor decisions in the transfer market was the beginning of the end for the Dutchman.


Michael Keane told Evertontv, ‘I think it is down to us at the end of the day, the manager can only do so much,” but the damage had already been done and Koeman was sacked.”


David Unsworth then took the reigns on an interim basis – the less said about that the better.


Allardyce kicked off with a 7-game unbeaten run and Everton keeper, Jordan Pickford said, “He (Allardyce) has brought a good structure and balance to the side. I feel like we know where we stand with him. He is all about the basics and that is where we need to start.”


However the Toffee’s form has plummeted to the depths, which instigated Koeman’s dismissal.


Everton’s last league 6 games:



“It was a false sense of security if they think like that. We’ve only taken three points out of 18.”


Allardyce’s appointment sparked a resurgence from the offset but following a promising start, his side have once again regressed into a relegation battle with six points separating themselves and Southampton in 18th. Hit the restart button, Sam – you’ve got work to do again.


Verdict: Hit (just)


Moyes at West Ham




David Moyes was seen as the best of a bad bunch when appointed by West Ham after the sacking of Bilic and he received a rather underwhelming reception from the Irons faithful.


The Hammers now sit 11th in the Premier league and are unbeaten in their last five league games. They’re not out of the relegation dog-fight quite yet but Moyes has done a lot more for the club than simply put a run of games together. He’s enhanced the squad’s fitness, made correct tactical decisions, and got Marko Arnatuovic showing signs of his in-form Stoke days (6 goals, 3 Assists).


Verdict: Hit


Alan Pardew at West Brom




Without a win in 10 games and a just a single point above the Premier League’s drop zone… Enough was enough for the West Brom board and out went Tony Pulis. Alan Pardew stepped in – a man, bear in mind, who had endured a dismal previous 24 months in the Premier League.


Gary Lineker Tweeted, ‘Tony Pulis has been sacked by WBA. Looking around at those available the best man to help them stay up could well be….Tony Pulis.’


Eight league games, four points later, and a regression into the relegation zone, have had Baggie fans wondering whether Pulis’ sacking and Pardew’s appointment had been a rational decision.


It seemed rather uncanny, considering Pardew often seemed to boost teams early on in his tenure before results would then fade away – a man very much specialising in a short-term boost, or the ‘Bounce Effect’.


They remain in the bottom 3, and they’re just a couple of injuries away from definite doom – would Pulis have managed to turn it around? Perhaps.


Verdict: Miss


Talking of the ‘Bounce Effect’, Sky Sports combined the results of 10 managers who were previously sacked to work out an average impact of sacking a manager, shown at the bottom of the graphic.


Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 13.59.43 Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 13.59.49 Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 13.58.47


On average results improve for the first six games after dismissing a manager, after which, results taper off and return to levels recorded nine games before the sacking.


Perhaps this is what Watford are after, keeping them in the Premier League for a further season and they can reassess come the end of the season…


Add the lines of Claude Puel (Leicester), Carlos Carvalhal (Swansea) and Paul Lambert (Stoke) to the equations and most have seen positive starts… Of course, in the case of Allardyce, a good start can very easily come undone.


A majority of the dismissals this season and last have been vindicated, Silva’s probably least of all, so the pressure is on Gracia to get off to a good start, and then maintain it.