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Long live...
By Pete Fincham
Good luck to the new manager. That goes without saying. "Welcome to Watford", "Aidy Boothroyd's Yellow Army", and all that. He's in charge of what is left of the squad, so let's make sure that he's given our support.

Adrian Boothroyd was a name I had never focused on until around ten o'clock this morning when, two hours before the official news came out, Leeds United broke the news that one of their coaches had suddenly found himself elevated to the position of Watford Manager. A quick scan of the 'net established that the not-so-long awaited replacement for former manager Ray Lewington would be a former league defender who made two-thirds of his 142 (+16) league appearances at Mansfield, before retiring from league football at the tender age of twenty-seven. In recent years Peterborough, Norwich and Leeds have benefited from his undoubted coaching talent, while his role at WBA is a little unclear. More of that later!

Bringing with him Keith Burkinshaw, I found myself transported back in time to the Falklands War, Ricardo Villa's beard and Steve Archibald's snot. It was a very long time ago. With several prolonged absences from the game since his halcyon years in North London, Burkinshaw has presided over a mere twenty-two victories in twenty-one years in the English leagues during unsuccessful spells at Gillingham and WBA. Then came a twenty-four day spell in charge of Aberdeen in December 1998 which seemed to signal his last foray into front line footballing duties. But now resurrected! An experienced head to help out the precocious young talent; a sixth former charged with showing his fag the ropes.

In retaining Nigel Gibbs, at least the mistakes of 2001 have not been replicated in every way. While the last big managerial shake up saw the disposal of two of the greatest Watford servants, it was a relief that the new team of decision makers at least saw the merits in retaining one of the few 'Watford' people left within WD18. With a clearly defined role still to be confirmed, it is a relief that Gibbsy is still involved.

So, here we are then. A list of thirty or so applicants whittled down to a (very) short list and an appointment on the first possible day - given Stock Exchange rules on appointments and how it has been closed since last Thursday afternoon. Taking away the fact that there would have been many applications which would have been totally unsuitable for the role ("Dear Sir, I have successfully managed my Sunday side for three years"), you would have expected that there would have been a decent sized handful whom the club would have wanted to interview. It would be wrong of me not to wonder out loud who actually was interviewed for the most important of roles at our club. Several of those people from within the game who applied for the position, and from the surface appeared more than suitable for the role, are currently less than impressed at not being called for interview. With the last managerial appointment, the club were at pains to stress the extensive interview process which helped them decide that Ray Lewington was the man to take the club forward. At the time of writing, it's unclear whether a similar process was employed.

Boothroyd's time at West Brom is also a little unclear, although there is no doubt that he has been successful in the roles he has undertaken since retiring from playing the game. The official website suggests he was Academy Director, although reading between the lines he went to WBA from Norwich to take on the role. However as there is no academy at WBA, perhaps the Leeds site is more accurate in asserting he was Youth Development Officer. All a little unclear, especially the reference to an academy which does not exist! Burkinshaw is another with time at WBA, a club that is mentioned - whether rightly or wrongly - far too frequently for many who enjoy a good conspiracy theory. Diadora look forward to a relationship with Vicarage Road having been "in" at the Hawthorns as well.

With just seven games effectively to save the club from a quite disastrous drop into the Third Division and with it even further financial turmoil, Boothroyd has an unenviable task. If he succeeds, he will be a hero until next season when he can start from scratch. If he fails, those who appointed him will fall with or without him. One hopes and prays that all the decisions made recently are vindicated. This is a site dedicated to supporting Watford FC and ensuring that it thrives and prospers; but that doesn't mean the tough questions should not be asked or observations made. Because, regardless of the showbiz element in charge of all the switches in WD18, there is significant proportion of our fan base that right now believes that some of the recent decisions made are quite frankly not the right ones.

Let's just hope, for the sake of our club, that they are wrong.

The King is dead. Long live the King.