Watford’s new manager, Claudio Ranieri, wants to defy the odds and ensure that the Hornets stay in the Premier League for next season. Ranieri, who has previously managed Chelsea, Leicester and Fulham, faces an onerous start to his tenure at Vicarage Road with a home match against Liverpool this weekend closely followed by upcoming clashes against Arsenal and Manchester United.
Ranieri will turn seventy next week and a win against Jurgen Klopp’s side, missing some key players due to international duties and injury, would be a magnificent start to his birthday celebrations. However, the depth and talent of Liverpool’s squad are likely to be decisive and the Reds are hot favourites to win the match with odds of 7/18 from bookmaker SBK compared to the long odds for a Watford win of 17/2 from Unibet.
Both Watford and Norwich returned to the Premier League after only one season languishing in the Championship. The Canaries look likely to ricochet back down to the Championship with no wins at all after seven matches played and only one point gained. Burnley, also are faring badly too with three points on the board and remain in the relegation zone in this early stage of the season. The bookies’ odds reflect this harsh reality with odds of 2/9 from Paddy Power that Norwich will be relegated and odds of 4/5 for Burnley from the same bookie.
Newcastle are also languishing in the relegation zone with only three points won and those points were from draws, including a 1-1 result against Watford late last month. However, the recent £305 million purchase of the club by the Saudi Public Investment Fund is likely to signal a renaissance at Newcastle, with manager Steve Bruce remaining in charge for the moment and the promise of investment in new players during the January transfer window. The betting market has reassessed the relegation odds for the Magpies in light of the PIF purchase with SBK, for example, offering odds of 13/5.
The same bookmaker is giving punters odds of 14/19 that the Hornets will go down, despite the fact that Watford are in 15th place in the League table with seven points from two wins and a draw – ahead of Leeds, Southampton, Burnley, Newcastle and Norwich. The odds can be seen as good value, given the season’s results to date and the positive flip which Ranieri’s appointment is expected to bring.
Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, have known Ranieri for many years. Gino Pozzo, son of Giampaulo who originally bought the club back in 2012, will be expecting results. No manager has lasted longer than 20 months in the past nine years and there is no place for sentimentality at the club. Ranieri, whose contract is for two years, acknowledges the precarious nature of his appointment saying “I can laugh as much as I want. If I don’t get any points, the laughing is finished.”