Watford have appointed the Forest Green Rovers manager Rob Edwards as Roy Hodgson’s successor. Confirmation came after the League Two champions expressed disappointment that negotiations had been held “behind our backs” and said Edwards had left.
Watford identified Edwards, who guided Rovers to the title in his first season as a Football League manager, as an ideal successor to Hodgson, who will leave at the end of this campaign.
A young homegrown coach marks a significant change in the type of appointment Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, have typically made and Edwards becomes the club’s ninth permanent manager in five years.
“Rob was a key part of the team that gained promotion to League One this season,” a Forest Green statement said. “We’re disappointed that our support, loyalty and honesty towards Rob has been repaid in this way – with negotiations taking place behind our backs.
“We had no contact from Watford, from whom we might expect less, but in any event this kind of behaviour gives football a bad name. We thank Rob for all his work at FGR – forgive him the manner of his departure and wish him well.”
Forest Green’s chairman Dale Vince said he had called Edwards on Tuesday evening as speculation mounted. “As soon as he started speaking, I knew that it was real,” Vince told Sky Sports News. “[He told me] that he had been in negotiations [with Watford] and felt it was a great opportunity for him.” Vince accused Watford of “deceit”.
Watford responded in a statement by saying: “Rob had a contractual provision allowing him to leave Forest Green Rovers at any time to discuss employment opportunities at other clubs and the Hornets are delighted to confirm our discussions concluded today.”
Edwards, a 39-year-old former Wales defender, coached Wolves’ under-23s and England’s under-16s before being given a chance by Forest Green. He recently won the EFL League Two manager of the season award.
Watford’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed last Saturday. Forest Green will play in the third tier for the first time next season and were recently boosted by their director of football Richard Hughes committing his future amid interest from Portsmouth. “If there is karma in football, we will meet Watford in the Championship in a few years’ time,” Vince said.
Watford host Everton on Wednesday hoping to avoid a 12th consecutive home defeat. – Guardian