The Boss Files: Óscar García

By: Watford FC Staff

To help celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Watford’s move to Vicarage Road, Daily Mirror sports writer Mike Walters recalls his encounters with those who have occupied the Hornets’ hotseat.

Given his upbringing in a Barcelona team including Pep Guardiola, Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman, under the tutelage of Johan Cruyff, it is no surprise Óscar García turned out to be a decent coach.

And for Watford supporters, García's four-week reign at Vicarage Road remains one of the great mysteries of a season when four Head Coaches took charge of the first team - and it ended in promotion to the Premier League.

What if the urbane Spaniard had remained in good health, and had stayed in charge for the whole 2014/2015 campaign?

How would a madcap season, where the lead changed hands at the top of the Championship like shares in a Wall Street meltdown, have unfolded if García's pit stop in Hertfordshire had lasted more than four games (of which he was only present at the first)?

And how many of Watford's voluble critics, who jump on every passing bandwagon when there's a change of Head Coach in the WD18 postcode, bother to record ill health as the reason for García's peep show in this parish?

The former Brighton manager had arrived in early September 2014 to take over from Beppe Sannino after leaving his previous job in Israel at Maccabi Tel Aviv for “personal reasons” - which may have included diving for cover when Palestinian hard-liners from Hamas fired ballistic missiles which landed too close for comfort.

At face value, he seemed a good fit. I had met García two years earlier, during his season as the Seagulls' wing commander, and he was personable, good-humoured, knowledgeable.

“I like many things about English culture,” he said, strolling past rows of brightly-painted beach huts on the promenade at Hove on a photoshoot. “But I don't understand... why do you go to the seaside to sit in a shed?”

A fair question. But when the conversation turned to football, there was more clarity of thought.

“We were lucky to have Cruyff as our Manager and we did not just learn about football from him. We learned a whole philosophy,” he said.

“Now we try to teach what Cruyff taught us. From nine years old, I learned to play only one way at Barcelona - and that is to keep the ball.”

García's principles were evident in his first game in the Hornets' cockpit. Watford passed Charlton to death at the Valley, but lost 1-0 to an early penalty.

The following day, he was taken ill after suffering chest pains - and we never saw him again.

Assistant Rubén Martínez took care of the shop for games against Blackpool, Bournemouth and Blackburn, which yielded five points, before the announcement - just four weeks after his appointment - that García was leaving the club due to ill health.

So like Schubert's unfinished symphony, we will never know if Óscar García's body of work would have turned into a masterpiece. The evidence was simply too sketchy to form a conclusive opinion.

But what we do know is that his reign looked like a candidate for a carriage clock for long service compared with the fate of his successor, Billy McKinlay...

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