Championship Analysis – Managerial chaos at Vicarage Road as Sannino quits Watford

Beppe Sannino quit as Watford head coach on Sunday evening in what – on paper at least – looked a very surprising move considering the fine start the Hornets have made to the Championship season.

Only Nottingham Forest separate Watford from top spot but, as part of a statement on the club’s website, Sannino said: “I feel I have gone as far as I can, so, for the benefit of me and the club, I feel the time is right for me to move on.”

Despite great results on the pitch, there have been rumours over Sannino’s popularity – or lack of it – off the pitch, with reports that certain players are unhappy with his managerial style, and that this may have contributed to the Italian’s departure.

It’s been a hugely eventful season already in terms of managerial goings-on, and with Huddersfield yet to replace Mark Robins and Leeds also on the hunt for a new manager after sacking David Hockaday on Thursday, Sannino’s resignation means there are technically three vacancies to fill in the Championship at the time of writing.

The pressure cooker is also boiling at Craven Cottage, where Fulham earned their first point of the season against fellow relegated Cardiff on Saturday. One senses Felix Magath is skating on thin ice after criticising previous owner Mohamed Al Fayed in London’s Evening Standard during the week when he would be better off ducking under any needless headlines, particularly as his relationship with the home faithful is reportedly growing ever frostier.

Indeed, in the same paper, Al Fayed responded: “What’s strange is that after losing Fulham’s first four games of the Championship season, he has got time to criticise me – someone he has never met – instead of devoting every waking second to putting right his own glaring mistakes.”

On the rosier side, Stuart Pearce is enjoying life at Nottingham Forest. The club remain top of the Championship after scraping a 1-0 win at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. The latest victory poses an ominous warning to the rest of the division as Wednesday were the better side for long periods but the visitors still managed to grind out the win – the mark of every successful side.

Forest are one of only two teams left in the division to be unbeaten – the other being Charlton, who are sixth having drawn three of their five games – but Pearce is taking nothing for granted. “I’m pleased how we stand, but my message is we have to improve,” he said.

“There are four or five areas of the game we can get better at and the players realise that. There hasn’t been one game where I have been entirely satisfied,” the former England captain continued. “Maybe I have set my standards too high, but I don’t think I have.”

Intriguingly, Forest’s next encounter is the East Midlands clash with Derby in a fortnight’s time when domestic action returns after the international break. When the two sides met at the City Ground last season – also in the month of September – Derby sacked Nigel Clough just hours afterwards. It’s highly unlikely Steve McClaren would suffer in the same manner but a Forest win would see the gap between the rivals increase to eight points.

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