Will Watford regret Javi Gracia sacking? The last ten managers sacked first in the Premier League and how the clubs fared after


Watford’s decision to sack Javi Gracia so early in the season took many by surprise.

The Spaniard was dismissed as Hornets boss on Saturday after suffering three defeats in their opening four Premier League games.

Just a few months ago the 49-year-old was being lauded for the work he was doing with the club, guiding Watford to the FA Cup final as well as cementing an 11th-place finish in the division.

Gracia feels hard done by with his Watford departure


Gracia feels hard done by with his Watford departure

Gracia himself has admitted it was unexpected, saying: “After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract after only four matches, I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford’s history.”

Quique Sanchez Flores, who was axed by Watford chiefs in 2016, has succeeded Gracia at Vicarage Road for a second spell.

In light of his sacking – the first managerial sacking in the Premier League in 2019/20 – talkSPORT.com has looked back at the first managerial depatures over the last ten seasons and anaylsed how each club fared in their campaigns afterwards…

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2010/11: Chris Hughton (Newcastle) – December 6, 2010

League position when sacked: 11th

Replacement: Alan Pardew

League position at end of season: 12th

“Regrettably, the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward,” read Newcastle’s statement after they sacked Hughton just months after he led them back to the top flight.

Pardew replaced him and results didn’t get much better, with the club finishing in 12th at the end of the season.

Hughton was replaced by Pardew at Newcastle in 2010

2011/12: Steve Bruce (Sunderland)- November 30, 2011

League position upon departure: 16th

Replacement: Martin O’Neill

League position at end of season: 13th

The Black Cats had a dismal start to the campaign, winning just two of their first 13 Premier League games and unsurprisingly Bruce was axed.

“Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change,” said chairman Ellis Short.

O’Neill took the reins and inspired a run of seven wins in ten matches over Christmas and New Year, eventually leading Sunderland to a 13th-place finish.

Bruce was the the first managerial casualty in the 2011/12 season

2012/13: Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea) – November 21, 2012

League position when sacked: 3rd

Replacement: Rafa Benitez

League position at end of season: 3rd

Di Matteo was dismissed by Roman Abramovich just six months after delivering the Champions League and the FA Cup to west London as caretaker boss.

He had started the season well after being given the job in a permanent basis, winning seven of the opening eight matches of the campaign.

However, a run of four games without a win and struggles in Europe led to his sacking, with Abramovich inevitably running out of patience with the Italian and bringing in former Liverpool boss Benitez, who went on to lead the club to Europa League glory.

Di Matteo astonishingly was sacked just six months after guiding Chelsea to Champions League victory

2013/14: Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland) – September 23, 2013

League position when sacked: 20th

Replacement: Gus Poyet

League position at end of season: 14th

Di Canio led Sunderland to just one point from five league matches and there was a palpable breakdown in the relationship between him and his squad.

It is believed Lee Cattermole, who had recently been stripped of the captaincy, hit back on behalf of the squad and when the news reached owner Ellis Short, he wasted no time to send Di Canio on his way.

Poyet then steered the ship in the right direction, claiming four wins in their last five matches to finish in 14th.

Di Canio’s reign as Sunderland boss was short lived

2014/15: Neil Warnock (Crystal Palace) – December 27, 2014

League position when sacked: 18th

Replacement: Alan Pardew

League position at end of season: 10th

The current Cardiff boss replaced Tony Pulis, who walked out on the south London club just two days before the start of the season.

Warnock won just three of his 16 Premier League games in a disastrous patch of form, equating to a win percentage of 18.8% – and he was then dismissed before Christmas.

Pardew returned to the club from Newcastle and dragged the Eagles into the top half.

Warnock was dismissed as Palace boss

2015/16: Dick Advocaat (Sunderland) – October 4, 2015

League position when sacked: 19th

Replacement: Sam Allardyce

League position at end of season: 17th

Advocaat decided against retiring in 2015 after being convinced not too by Sunderland after his success in keeping them up the previous season.

But a failure to invest in the squad left the Dutchman frustrated and he eventually walked away after eight games without a win at the start of the campaign.

“I am truly saddened by Dick’s decision, but I respect him for his honesty,” explained Short. “It is also testament to his character that he has foregone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.”

Allardyce arrived and, as his his hallmark, ensured Premier League survival.

Advocaat walked away after eight games without a win at the start of the campaign

2016/17: Francesco Guidolin (Swansea) – October 3, 2016

League position when sacked: 17th

Replacement: Bob Bradley

League position at end of season: 15th

Swansea rather harshly parted ways with Guidolin on his birthday with the team in 17th place, having not recorded a win since the opening weekend.

Chairman Huw Jenkins replaced him with Bradley, who he saw as a ‘long-term appointment’, but just 85 days later, he too was sent packing after seven defeats in 11 matches.

Paul Clement then took charge and did reasonably well, securing their top flight status.

Guidolin was the first to fall victim to a dismissal early on in the 2016/17 season

2017/18: Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace) – September 11, 2017

League position when sacked: 19th

Replacement: Roy Hodgson

League position at end of season: 11th

De Boer was sacked after five games and just 77 days in charge at Selhurst Park.

Having failed to score a single goal in four Premier League matches under the Dutchman, the Eagles were languishing in 19th place before Hodgson arrived.

De Boer’s stint was the shortest Premier League tenure in terms of games – the 47-year-old’s spell with Palace and his former club Inter incredibly lasted a combined 162 days.

De Boer lost his first five  games in charge of Palace

2018/19: Slavisa Jokanovic (Fulham) – November 14, 2018

League position when sacked: 20th

Replacement: Claudio Ranieri

League position at end of season: 19th

Jokanovic was axed with the Cottagers sitting bottom of the Premier League table with five points from 12 matches, despite the Serb spending a fortune in the transfer window following their promotion from the Championship.

Ranieri was appointed as his replacement and Shahid Khan proclaimed: “Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham.”

But the Italian was gone within three-and-a-half months and Fulham were relegated to the Championship.

Jokanovic had a miserable time in the Premier League with Fulham

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