Watford FC is pleased to confirm the appointment of Valérien Ismaël as the club’s new Head Coach, as eyes now turn to the 2023/24 campaign.
The 47-year-old joins having enjoyed extensive experience in management both here in the UK and abroad.
On the appointment, Watford’s Technical Director Ben Manga said: “Being able to appoint a new coach so soon in May means we can prepare very well together for next season.
“To be able to welcome someone of Valérien’s experience to Watford is good news for our club. We are all looking forward to working with him.”
Former France Under-21 international Ismaël enjoyed an extensive professional playing career with the likes of home-town club Strasbourg and German top-flight sides Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich - as well as in England with Crystal Palace.
A decorated playing career saw him achieve the unusual feat of doing the German league & cup double with two different clubs: Bremen in 2004 and Bayern in 2006. Earlier in his career, he won the Coupe de France with Strasbourg.
After retiring at Hannover 96, Ismaël became manager of the German outfit’s second team prior to successful spells with FC Nürnberg and VfL Wolfsburg.
He then took charge of Greek side Apollon Smyrnis before taking the reins at LASK, leading the Austrian side to a first-ever appearance in the UEFA Champions League play-offs and a debut in the UEFA Europa League group stage, making it to the round of 16.
Ismaël took up the chance to manage in England when joining Barnsley in October 2020. Just outside the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone when he arrived, the Tykes stormed up the table to finish fifth - only missing out on promotion in the play-offs.
After furthering his domestic experience at West Bromwich Albion during the 2021/22 campaign, Ismaël’s most recent appointment came at Turkish giants Beşiktaş.
The Hornets would like to place on record their thanks to Chris Wilder and his staff, whose short-term contracts have come to an end.
His 11-game spell began in March and finished after the season’s final-day win at home to Stoke City.
We wish Chris, Alan Knill, Matt Prestridge and Mike Allen all the very best for their next opportunity in football.