Bilic makes winning start as Watford boss following 4-0 win over Stoke

Bilic is Watford’s ninth manager in three years after he replaced Rob Edwards on Monday.

Slaven Bilic applauds the fans after his side's win.
Slaven Bilic applauds the fans after his side's win.
Image: PA

SLAVEN BILIC MADE the perfect start to his Watford reign as the Croatian inspired a 4-0 rout of Stoke on Sunday.

Republic of Ireland U21 international Will Smallbone played the full game for Stoke, having joined the side on loan from Southampton in July. He was recently involved with the Ireland U21 side who fell agonisingly short of qualifying for the finals of the European Championship.

Bilic is Watford’s ninth manager in three years after the former West Ham boss replaced Rob Edwards on Monday.

The 54-year-old is off to a flying start with the Hornets after goals from Ismaila Sarr, Ken Sema, Keinan Davis and Vakoun Issouf Bayo left Stoke in tatters at the Bet365 Stadium.

It was Watford’s biggest victory since a 6-0 demolition of Bristol City in February 2021.

Bilic will be equally delighted with Watford’s first clean-sheet in 11 games in their first away win since March.

Watford move up to seventh place in the Championship, while Stoke are just two points above the relegation zone.

Bilic had been out of work since leaving Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan in January.

But Watford hope he can emulate his achievement with West Bromwich Albion, where he won promotion to the Premier League in 2020.

Bilic has taken over a club in turmoil after their relegation from the Premier League last season and a disappointing start to the new campaign.

Edwards, hired from Forest Green in the close-season, was sacked after just 11 games in charge of the second tier club.

Meanwhile, Stoke manager Alex Neil has endured a shaky start since surprisingly leaving Sunderland at the end of August.

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Neil has won just one of his five games after replacing the sacked Michael O’Neill.

– © AFP 2022

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