Javi Gracia takes over as Watford’s 10th manager.
Hornets godfather Gino Pozzo moved swiftly to replace the sacked Marco Silva by installing former Malaga coach Gracia, 47, on an 18-month contract at Vicarage Road.
Silva was shocked to be fired after being summoned to a meeting with Pozzo, hours after the 2-0 defeat at Leicester stretched Watford’s nosedive towards the quicksands to just 11 points from a possible 48.
Gracia must pick the pieces after a winter of discontent at Vicarage Road, which began when Everton came calling for Silva – and the highly-rated Portugese coach, flattered by the vulgar wealth of a £4m salary and £100m transfer war chest at Goodison Park, fluttered his eyelids.
Where early-season performances were characterised by relentless pressing and late goals, the odds started stacking up against the Hornets, notably in a rash of red cards and a frightening injury list.
If the players did not withdraw their labour, results dipped alarmingly and the bond between Silva, his board and the squad was damaged beyond repair.
It is a crushing blow for Silva, who was relegated with Hull last season despite a brave attempt to confound the odds, and now he leaves Watford facing another battle against the drop – and with his card marked as a fiercely-ambitious coach who tried to bail out at the first sign of a better offer.
Gracia, who kept Malaga safely in mid-table after a financial meltdown had stripped them of their best players, including Santi Cazorla, will evaluate his squad after taking his first training session on Monday morning.
He has been assured funds will be made available for new players to arrest the Hornets’ alarming slump.