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Watford appoint Valerien Ismael as manager following Chris Wilder’s departure

Watford have announced the appointment of Valerien Ismael as their permanent manager following the departure of Chris Wilder.

Wilder joined the club on a short-term contract until the end of the season. He replaced Slaven Bilic on March 7 but departed following the conclusion of the Championship campaign.

Talks between Ismael and Watford started last week. He has been without a job since October 2022, when Besiktas dismissed him after only 18 matches in charge.

Watford appointed the France-born manager to improve their 11th-place finish in the Championship this term.

The 47-year-old will aim for at least a place in next season’s promotion play-offs.

Technical Director Ben Manga said (via Watford’s official website): “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 Valerien’s experience to Watford is good news for our club. We are all looking forward to working with him.”

Ismael had a successful career playing as a defender for his hometown club Strasbourg before moving to Germany

He played for Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich, where he won the league and cup double at both clubs.

Ismael went into coaching after finishing his playing career at Hannover 96.

He became manager of Hannover’s second team before taking charge at FC Nurnberg and VfL Wolfsburg.

Ismael moved to Greece to manage Apollon Smyrnis before taking charge at LASK. He led the Austrian side to a first-ever appearance in the Champions League play-offs.

He debuted in the Europa League group stage and took his side to the round of 16.

Ismael took his talents to England to manage Barnsley in October 2020. They were just outside the Championship relegation zone when he arrived.

However, he led them up the table to finish fifth place. They missed out on promotion in the play-offs.

Ismael went on to West Bromwich Albion and lasted seven months in charge before they dismissed him.

He had an ill-fated spell in Turkey but will now return to the Championship.

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