Watford: Chris Wilder replaces sacked Slaven Bilic as head coach

Chris Wilder

Watford have appointed Chris Wilder as head coach after sacking Slaven Bilic.

Bilic, 54, left after five months in charge following a run of one win in eight Championship games.

Wilder, who has agreed a contract until the end of the season, is Watford’s ninth full-time manager since Javi Gracia’s departure in September 2019.

Watford, relegated from the Premier League last season, are ninth in the table, four points off the play-offs.

“We are all ambitious to succeed this season, so something new is needed quickly while the opportunity of promotion is still real,” technical director Ben Manga told the club website.

“With the January transfer window over, to change coach is the only option available to re-energise for the final games ahead.”

Since Gracia was sacked four months after taking the club to the 2019 FA Cup final, Quique Sanchez Flores, Nigel Pearson, Vladimir Ivic, Xisco Munoz, Claudio Ranieri, Roy Hodgson, Edwards and Bilic have had spells in charge.

Bilic replaced Rob Edwards, who lasted only 11 games in charge, in September.

Wilder, 55, was sacked by Middlesbrough in October after 11 months in charge.

He led hometown club Sheffield United to two promotions from League One to the Premier League before leaving in March 2021.

He took over at Middlesbrough in November that year but left with the club in the Championship relegation zone.

Wilder’s first game in charge of Watford will be at struggling QPR on Saturday.

Analysis: ‘This is what Watford do’

Geoff Doyle, BBC Three Counties Radio sports editor

This can come as no surprise to anyone anymore. Watford owner Gino Pozzo doesn’t hang around if he feels a head coach isn’t getting the best out of his players.

And the form since the World Cup has been very, very ordinary.

Yet it’s still a bit harsh on Bilic. A couple of months ago he had 15 players injured, including star man Joao Pedro, and six midfielders.

They have gradually returned to the side but Watford have slipped down the table waiting for them to return.

Last Saturday’s match against Preston felt like there could be no more excuses and the goalless draw wasn’t good enough for Bilic. This is what Watford do. I’m sure Chris Wilder knows what he’s letting himself in for…

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