August 26, 2018 / 8:02 PM / in 2 months

Watford the surprise package in Premier League

LONDON (Reuters) - While it is no surprise to find Liverpool and Chelsea with 100 percent records after three Premier League matches, few would have expected the name of Watford to be right up there with them.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Watford v Crystal Palace - Vicarage Road, Watford, Britain - August 26, 2018 Watford's Jose Holebas celebrates scoring their second goal with Abdoulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capoue and team mates REUTERS/David Klein

Like Chelsea, the humble Hertfordshire club, whose only season in European football was 35 years ago, completed their third victory from three games on Sunday, when they beat Crystal Palace 2-1 to add to victories over Brighton and Burnley.

Yet their constant turnover of managers and players appears to contradict all the received wisdom about the importance of stability in football.

The late Graham Taylor was once in charge for 10 years, from 1977-87, as he took the team from the fourth tier of English football to the first with the financial backing of local rock star Elton John.

In 1983 they finished runners-up to champions Liverpool, earning that one shot at the UEFA Cup, and a year later were FA Cup finalists.

In the past decade, however, Watford have run through no fewer than 13 managers, some of whom — like Brendan Rodgers at Scottish champions Celtic, Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Slavisa Jokanovic at Fulham, have gone on to great things elsewhere.

One of those in charge, Billy McKinlay, lasted just eight days.

They have effectively had a different manager for each of the past five seasons in Jokanovic, Quique Flores, Walter Mazzarri, Marco Silva (now at Everton) and Javi Gracia.

The Pozzo family from Italy, who took over in 2012 and immediately sacked Dyche, also own Udinese in Italy and at one time had Granada of Spain in their portfolio, giving them a club in the top tier of three leading European countries.

Moving players between clubs, often on loan, added to the sense of flux but the intake this close-season has been smaller than in some previous years, making them along with Newcastle United the biggest net profit of any Premier League club thanks to the sale of Brazilian forward Richarlison to Everton for a reported 40 million pounds ($51 million).

Meanwhile a home game next weekend against Tottenham Hotspur, who finished third last season, will provide a genuine test of whether Watford can improve on last season’s 14th place.

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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