Claudio Ranieri – Can he keep Watford up?

Claudio Ranieri’s reign as Watford manager could not have gotten off to a worse start. A heavy defeat to Liverpool was far from ideal start to his new job.

Having already gone through the turmoil that was relegation from the Premier League two seasons ago, Ranieri’s appointment brought newfound optimism.

However, questions will be asked about Watford’s decision to hire the Italian after last weekend’s game, but after only a week in the job, the result should be taken with a pinch of salt. Although the performance only showed the struggles that Watford have, there is hope that Ranieri’s appointment will improve the fortunes of the team.

Now, this is a time where patience is required, and the Pozzo Family’s trigger finger will need to be tamed if they want to avoid a second relegation in three years. Constant change and transition are never ideal for the team when confidence is low. In Ranieri, Watford have a manager who is capable of getting the best out of his players when it all comes together.

Ranieri was in good spirits at his first press conference as Watford Head Coach.

Patience is something that Ranieri has not been given much of in recent years. With the exception of Sampdoria, Ranieri has paid the price when the situation looks to have taken a turn for the worst.

With Fulham, they were already in a situation where relegation looked like a mere certainty, so Ranieri’s dismissal made no difference to the outcome. However, his sacking at Leicester seemed at first glance a bizarre one with a Champions League knockout place already confirmed. But with the club looking in a perilous position in the league, a change was required as the problems at the club began to mount up.

Watford are in need of a motivator, and Ranieri can be that person. He has shown in the past that he can be a shrewd tactician, and the Liverpool game will have alerted him to the predicament he finds himself in. The 4-4-2 formation that worked to great effects at Leicester and Sampdoria may be Ranieri’s preferred tactical set-up, but he has shown in the past that he is not afraid to change it when the going gets tough. It showed straight away, with Watford reverting back to their accustomed 4-3-3 after half-time.

The Italian will need to work his magic if he is to get this team working as a high pressing, compact unit capable of taking an upward trajectory in the Premier League. Defensively, Watford are all over the place, and the lack of goals coming from the midfield is a real concern as well.

The front three of Ismailia Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis, and Cucho Hernandez look isolated from the rest of the team, and with no support, their rivals have been able to exploit this issue.

With the club playing four of last season’s top five in consecutive games in the next two months, it will only get more difficult for Watford as the games come thick and fast.

Ranieri’s credentials will be tested during this period, but Watford need to stick it out with the Italian. Patience in football is a virtue, but it may be the key to their survival.

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