AHEAD OF THE GAME: Watford boss on borrowed time before his first game

AHEAD OF THE GAME: Watford boss Vladimir Ivic on borrowed time before he’s even managed a game… and why Jude Bellingham made an inauspicious start to life with England Under 21s

  • Watford players have been complaining about Vladimir Ivic’s aloof manner
  • Jude Bellingham’s father arrived with him to St George’s Park breaking protocol
  • Derby broke an embargo regarding their decision to be cleared in their EFL spat

Watford’s players are already speculating about how long manager Vladimir Ivic will survive in the job, before his first competitive match in charge.

The 43-year-old has made few allies in the dressing room so far, with a number of players privately complaining about his aloof manner and their impression that he has run them into the ground during pre-season.

Ivic was appointed in August as Watford’s fourth permanent manager in less than 12 months, with Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores both sacked towards the beginning of last season before the extraordinary dismissal of Nigel Pearson with just two matches of the campaign remaining.

Hayden Mullins took temporary charge for the last two games, but was unable to prevent Watford’s relegation from the Premier League.

Watford begin their first Championship campaign for five years at home to Middlesbrough on Friday.

Watford’s new manager Vladimir Ivic has made few allies during his first few weeks at the club

Jude Bellingham’s family ignore Covid-19 protocols 

Jude Bellingham’s international career got off to an inauspicious start after his first call-up to Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under 21 squad when his family ignored instructions that players should report for duty on their own to comply with the FA’s Covid-19 protocols.

Bellingham arrived at St George’s Park with his father Mark, a prolific former non-League striker who has taken a hands-on approach to managing his son’s career and was heavily involved in negotiating his £25million transfer from Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Bellingham’s minor breach of protocol has not been held against him by the FA however and he has made a big impression in training on Boothroyd, who has described the 17-year-old as one of the most talented players he has ever seen. 

The FA’s Covid-19 rules are so rigorous that players are required to wear face masks at all times when inside the buildings at St George’s Park, even during Gareth Southgate and Boothroyd’s team talks.

Jude Bellingham’s father arrived with the Dortmund star to St George’s Park ignoring the FA

Brighton’s predictable failure  

A proposal from Brighton to introduce a predictive element to the formula used to determine league positions in the event of next season being curtailed has been rejected by the Premier League.

Under Brighton’s model average points-per-game would be calculated as a starting point before being projected over a 38-match season, adding different weightings to account for the number of home and away matches remaining, and the strength of the opposition.

While accepting the logic behind the proposal the Premier League board concluded that straightforward average points-per-game should be used because it would be more easily understood by fans, and due to concerns that predictive models would not adequately reflect the shock results that often occur towards the end of the season.

Derby break embargo

Derby’s relationship with the Football League has become so toxic in the light of their spending charge that the club deliberately published the written reasons behind the independent panel’s decision to clear them last week an hour before the embargo time that the two parties had mutually agreed.

The EFL have until Tuesday to lodge an appeal against the panel’s verdict that Derby’s sale of Pride Park for £80million and amortisation procedures did not constitute a breach of profit and sustainability rules.

Derby were cleared by an independent panel and the EFL have until Tuesday to lodge an appeal

Clubs served Plumb crumble  

The Premier League’s legal chief Kevin Plumb is emerging as the sport’s version of Donald Rumsfeld.

In a letter to clubs last month regarding the need for the Premier League board to be given emergency powers to be triggered by force majeure events, Plumb wrote ‘we do now know what we do not know’, an evocative turn of phrase with echoes of the former US Defence Secretary’s infamous reference to ‘unknown unknowns’ when asked about the evidence for Iraq assembling weapons of mass destruction in 2002.

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