Norwich City, Burnley and Watford were the three teams relegated to the Championship at the end of last season. Two of the three are beginning the campaign in the second tier with new managers, with Burnley hiring Vincent Kompany and Watford appointing Rob Edwards. It's the former Forest Green boss who is impressing thus far.
It’s fair to say that some questioned the appointment of Edwards, who had just guided Forest Green Rovers out of League 2. Watford are notoriously known for being a club operating in the short term, and many felt that if Edwards didn’t get off to a good start, he could come under fire quickly and find himself out of a job. But, so far, Watford have won two from three, drawing the other game, and kept two clean sheets.
And, the three league fixtures they’ve played so far are some of the toughest they’ll play all season, with 1-0 wins recorded against Sheffield United and Burnley at Vicarage Road. And a draw secured at The Hawthorns against West Brom, another side expected to challenge for promotion under Steve Bruce. So, Edwards is very much holding his own as a manager who has jumped a couple of levels to take charge of a team wanting to make an instant return to the Premier League.
The thirty-nine-year-old certainly has players of quality in his squad, but has been open on the subject that there is the potential for some to leave the club before the end of the transfer window. Emmanuel Dennis was linked with a move back to the top-flight and finally got his wish after signing for promoted outfit Nottingham Forest. It’s arguably what made the victory against Burnley even more impressive, as it was done without Dennis, who was in Nottingham undergoing his medical.
There is still talk that the impressive Ismaila Sarr, who has an assist and a goal from the first three games, could also head for the exit if a big money offer comes in. But as Edwards has reiterated, if players do leave, there is a plan in place. And this has been evidenced by the arrival of Keinan Davis on loan from Aston Villa for the season.
Davis, 24, could prove to be a shrewd signing for Edwards, as he enjoyed a fruitful loan stint with Nottingham Forest in the second half of last season, which ended up in Steve Cooper’s side making a return to the Premier League after a twenty-three-year absence. He scored five goals and made two assists in the games he was available for, but he did suffer an injury which ruled him out for six matches.
If Watford do make it back to the Premier League this season, while they are one of the favourites, it could be seen as a massive achievement by Edwards and his staff. Not only have they made the step up from League Two, but they're embracing a transitional period at Vicarage Road while attempting to guide the team to promotion.