Four managers before November didn’t bode well for a successful season, but the Hornets’ promotion to the Premier League is testament to their consistency since
• Watford secure top-flight football after Deeney and Vydra sink Brighton
In many ways there could have been no more fitting opponents than Brighton to usher Watford towards promotion. Their previous meeting, at Vicarage Road in October, represents a watershed in a season that, at that stage, seemed as likely to end in ridicule as in rejoicing. Results had been reasonable enough – the 1-1 draw lifted the Hornets to second in the table – but off the pitch there was turmoil: they were already on their third manager of the season and about to replace him with a fourth.
The first, Beppe Sannino, resigned in August amid reports of player unrest; his replacement, Óscar García, quit for health reasons after four weeks; and Billy McKinlay took four points from two games before, without so much as glimpsing a contract, he was elbowed aside in favour of the former Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic. The decision, taken three days after that Brighton game, seemed brutal and graceless at the time but hindsight has painted it in a different light; Watford were second then and are first now but their improvement as a team has been dramatic.