Ex-West Brom boss replaces ex-Sheffield United and Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder at Watford

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Valerien Ismael left West Brom last season after being sacked by the club

Ex-West Brom boss Valerien Ismael has returned to the Championship after being appointed as Watford manager ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

The former Barnsley head coach joined the Baggies from the Tykes in June 2021 after leading the Yorkshire club into the Championship play-offs.

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However, he won just 12 of 31 games in charge of West Brom as his style of play was criticised. He enjoyed a strong start at the Hawthorns as the Baggies won four of their first five games under him but a run of eight victories in 24 matches saw him dismissed.

He will now be in the dugout against his former club next term, as Watford announced he will replace Chris Wilder who has left the club following the expiration of his short-term contract.

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.”

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On Wilder’s departure, a club statement added: “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.”

Ismael enjoyed an impressive playing career as he won the German league and cup double with Bremen in 2004 and Bayern Munich in 2006. He also had a spell at Crystal Palace. He was most recently in charge at Beşiktaş after leaving West Brom.

The Hornets finished six points adrift of the play-off places, and were also behind West Brom who ended the season three points adrift of the top six.

The Baggies appointed Carlos Corberan at the end of October, and only five clubs have picked up more points since his arrival as West Brom eye another promotion bid next season.

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