Watford have blamed Everton for the decision to sack their head coach Marco Silva after just eight months in charge.
The Hornets says Everton’s “unwarranted approach” for Silva in the autumn was the “catalyst” behind a slump on form and loss of focus that has ultimately led to the Portuguese’s dismissal.
Silva won four of his first eight league games in charge to lift Watford as high as fourth in mid-October.
However, the team’s form deteriorated rapidly and coincided with Everton’s interest in appointing the former Hull boss as their new manager.
When Ronald Koeman was sacked on October 23, Watford were fifth in the table after losing just their second league game of the season at Chelsea the previous weekend.
Everton quickly made Silva their no.1 choice to succeed Koeman but saw their advances continually rebuffed by the Watford hierarchy.
The Toffees were reportedly willing to pay up to £15m compensation for Silva, who only joined Watford from Hull in May.
Despite Watford insisting he wasn’t going anywhere, Silva remained keen on a move to Goodison Park and even reportedly spoke to some of the players he wanted to move with him.
However, Watford held firm and club lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to Everton at the end of November.
By that stage the rot had started to set in, with Watford losing four out of six matches by the time Everton turned to Sam Allardyce on November 30.
Since then things have got even worse, with Watford losing seven, drawing two and winning just one of their last 10 league matches since the start of December.
The Watford board believe trust between the players and head coach has been lost because of Silva’s desire to move to Goodison.
As a result they feel the 40-year-old’s position is untenable, and lay the blame squarely at Everton’s door.
In an extraordinary statement, Watford said:
“The Club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.
The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised.
For the security and success of the football club, the Board believes it has to make a change.”
This does raise the question of whether Everton still retain an interest in Silva and are prepared to offer him the job at the end of the season.
However, with a relegation and sacking on his CV in the space of 18-months, his reputation has taken a fairly hefty hit.
It remains to be seen whether Everton will go back in for a coach they coveted so much in the autumn.