Five reasons why Watford will part ways with Mazzarri after season's end
Watford will go into their third consecutive Premier League term with a new manager. It was announced on Wednesday that Walter Mazzarri will leave the club after the season finale with Manchester City and while the news may not have come as a shock to many Hornets' fans, why is it that the Italian's services are not being retained?
1. Ambitious, ruthless ownership
Since arriving at the club, owner Gino Pozzo has completely transformed Watford's fortunes. Under his stewardship the ground has been developed beyond recognition and the team have transitioned from the bottom of the Championship to relatively comfortable safety in the top flight for two seasons running. He has of course also rattled through a sizeable number of head coaches.
Mazzarri will be the eighth man dispensed with under the Pozzo regime, and while those outside WD18 may question the sanity of such regular change, the truth is pretty simple: The owners want continued improvement and they aren't afraid to make tough decisions in order to achieve it.
The watching world was incredulous when Quique Sanchez Flores departed Vicarage Road at the end of last season, but the second half of the season under him was nothing shy of disastrous. His tenure was decisively ended to ensure there was no hangover at the start of the following season, and after an appalling run of results and performances this season, history appears to have repeated itself. For those still not convinced, look at the likes of Newcastle, Sunderland and Aston Villa. Perennial strugglers who didn't make a change until it was too late.
The Pozzo family famously guided Serie A side Udinese into the Champions League and while it's unlikely they harbour such lofty ambitions for Watford, it is a reminder that a) they have a successful track record in top-flight football, and b) they simply won't accept second best. Some may call it entitled, greedy or foolish. Others would argue, with some merit, that it's well-warranted ambition.
2. Player power
One of the knock-on effects of making managers so seemingly expendable is that people notice, and that very clearly includes the players. There have been plenty of murmurings in the media about the squad not being happy with the coach and a run of distinctly lacklustre showings have suggested that they aren't scared about making their feelings known on the pitch, too.
While Mazzarri was in many ways the architect of his own downfall -- bizarre team choices and formations, an apparent lack of attacking intent, ineffective substitutions and questionable motivational skills to name but a few -- the players must also take a substantial portion of the blame for his failure, and it's hard not to draw the conclusion that the disenfranchised among them knew exactly what they were doing.
3. Communication breakdown
One of the key issues supporters had with Mazzarri was his communication. All news conferences and interviews were conducted almost exclusively through an interpreter, meaning that fans never felt they truly heard from the head coach directly. This made forming any sort of bond difficult, instead making it easier for apathetic supporters to turn against him when things turned sour.
The main issue that Mazzarri was never able to convey exactly what his plans were for the team, why he selected the sides he did and what he hoped to achieve from his tactics. Instead, fans were forced to piece together translated soundbites that never really amounted to anything. While no Watford follower would ever want a manager to fail, there was certainly a sense that Mazzarri didn't enjoy the unequivocal support his predecessors were afforded and the inability to successfully communicate undoubtedly played a large part in that.
4. When they were bad, they were horrid
Had Mazzarri mastered the language, it would have been fascinating to hear his take on a number of Watford's performances, because all too often they were dismal.
Highlights such as the come-from-behind win against West Ham, a fine victory against Manchester United and a second win in as many seasons at the Emirates were infrequent bright spots in an otherwise uninspiring season. Watford's defeats under Mazzarri were absolute; once behind there was almost never the sense that the team were set up to mount a comeback, whether that be against a team in the top six or 10-man Hull City.
Mazzarri clearly set his sides up to be defensively robust, to stay in the game and try to pinch a winner. In the Premier League, against incredibly tough opposition, it's not necessarily a bad idea, but there has to be a backup plan if it fails. On countless occasions, there was precious little evidence that the initial tactics could be deployed, let alone the implementation of a Plan B. When Watford lost, they really lost. It was hard to watch.
5. It's a results business
At the time of his announcement, Watford had lost seven games in a row and had failed to score in six of them. It's been a soul-destroying run of form and in any division, in any situation, it's one that is likely to place the manager under threat. With a host of other black marks already against his name, the results in the run-in will have undoubtedly convinced the hierarchy that he isn't up to the job. After hitting the 40-point mark with ease, the final section of the season has seen the Hornets slip from 10th to a probable 17th-place finish.
Mazzarri delivered Premier League safety for Watford, and for that the club and its supporters are undeniably grateful. But things are changing at Vicarage Road and just good enough is no longer acceptable.
Mike is ESPN FC's Watford blogger.