Watford to beat Leeds in appointment of former Barcelona man?

Watford Vicarage Road 2

Former Barcelona midfielder and Brighton coach Oscar Garcia is favourite to become the next permanent manager of Watford.

The Hornets are searching for a new manager following the departure of Beppe Sannino, who resigned on Sunday following rumours of disagreements with both the owners and the playing staff.

The Italian was in charge at Vicarage Road for just eight months, having arrived in December 2013 as the replacement for outgoing manager Gianfranco Zola. The 57-year old immediately shored up a leaky Hornets defence, and secured Championship survival despite the negative run that Zola had set the team on. A finish in the play-off places was a viable option late into the season, although a mid table finish could only be found, and following the 4-1 final day home defeat to Huddersfield, it was reported that some of the playing staff had fallen out with the manager.

However, the former Siena and Palermo manager stayed at the club over the summer, and managed to lead Watford to their best start to a Football League campaign for a number of years. Four wins out of five in the Championship may have hinted that the problems were behind the club, although in the wake of the rousing 4-2 victory of Huddersfield on Saturday, Sannino bid his farewells and walked out.

With the impending international break, the Hornets have a longer period to find a new head coach, although it appears as if the management have dived immediately into that task, approaching 41-year old Garcia over the possibility of taking the role.

Championship rivals Leeds United were also said to be in for Garcia, although the Yorkshire Evening Post has revealed that the Spaniard turned down the Yorkshire-based club in favour of a move to Watford.

The former Spanish youth international spent eight years of his playing career with Barcelona, playing in a midfield with Pep Guardiola and Hristo Stoichkov, before he rounded out his career with shorter spells at other La Liga clubs. He started his coaching career with Johan Cruyff, leading the Catalonia national team, before a spell with Barcelona’s La Masia academy led him to Israel and Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was with Tel Aviv that Garcia won the Israeli Premier League in his first year as a manger, before taking charge of Brighton in June 2013.

Garcia led the Seagulls to the play-off semi-finals - conceding the second fewest goals in the process - although following the second leg defeat to Derby County he resigned. A return to Tel Aviv was agreed, although he left after just two months, and no games in charge, citing personal reasons in his need to leave the country.

It remains to be seen who Watford will appoint, but the management could do much worse than Garcia. The 41-year old has experience of the Championship, as well as a rich footballing history; he was part of Louis van Gaal’s late-nineties Barcelona squad, of whom many have become top class managers. His desire to play highly technical football will surely go down well with the Hornets faithful - who were spoiled by Gianfranco Zola's style - and he should be able to work wonders with an already talented squad.

Whilst the appointment may come at a strange time, being just five games into the season, it will likely be the right move for both the club and the potential manager.

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