Watford have appointed Rob Edwards to succeed Roy Hodgson as their new head coach following his controversial exit from Forest Green.
Forest Green chairman Dale Vince has accused Watford of ‘double deceit’ after Edwards left the club earlier on Wednesday and entered advanced talks for the job at Vicarage Road.
Edwards helped guide Rovers to the 2021/22 League Two title, finishing ahead of Exeter on goal difference, but the club have confirmed he left ‘with negotiations behind our backs’ on a move to Watford.
Watford confirmed the appointment in a statement, saying Edwards “has a contractual provision allowing him to leave Forest Green Rovers at any time to discuss employment opportunities at other clubs”.
The 39-year-old took over at Forest Green 12 months ago after being in charge of Telford, Wolves U23 and England U16.
Edwards moved into coaching after a playing career which saw him represent Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Wolves. He made his first-team debut for Villa in December 2002 by Graham Taylor, the iconic former Watford manager.
Edwards will succeed Hodgson, who is due to leave the Hornets at the end of the current campaign after failing to save the club from relegation from the Premier League.
Watford are currently on a six-game losing streak and their return to the Championship was confirmed on Saturday after a 1-0 loss to Hodgson’s former club Crystal Palace.
Hodgson took over at Watford in January to become their third manager of the season after Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri, but won just two of his 15 games in charge.
The former England boss has also been unable to topple the Hornets’ home form, with his side currently on an 11-game losing streak at Vicarage Road.
‘Deal done behind our backs’: Forest Green fury as Watford approach
Vince was less than impressed with the developments, revealing he called Edwards on Tuesday night as speculation mounted.
“As soon as he started talking I knew it was real,” Vince said exclusively. Sky Sports News. “[He told me] that he had been negotiating [with Watford] and felt it was a great opportunity for him.
“For me the feeling was disappointment, because in football people come and go all the time. The important thing is how it happens.
“I wish him well, but it’s poor from Watford, who claim to start a new era, and it’s also poor from Rob. He let us down, but he knows it, so that’s it, and we’re going pass.”
Vince stressed that Rovers should have been approached by Watford initially, so negotiations could begin in the proper way.
“Watford advised Rob not to tell us specifically, so to me that doubles the deception,” Vince added. “It’s the kind of thing that gives football a bad name and the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen but does happen sometimes.
“I believe Watford have reached out today, so now there will be a more formal and appropriate process to end Rob’s time here and for him to start at Watford.”
Rovers will now begin their own search to replace Edwards, who took over at the club in the summer of 2021.
“We already have a shortlist and we’re going to continue with it,” Vince said. “We’ll find another promising young manager who has all the attributes we were looking for in Rob and we’ll get back there. We’re moving on.
“It’s hard not to get distracted from what happened, from promotion and winning the title, but that won’t stop what we do in the future because we will continue to operate as we are. do. – open and honest with everyone.”
Vince added: “I think everything will be fine – and if there’s any karma in football, we’ll meet Watford in the league in a few years.”