Relegated Premier League club Watford have hired Rob Edwards as their new manager from the end of this season after his departure from fourth-tier champions Forest Green on Wednesday.
Edwards will replace Roy Hodgson when the former England boss leaves Vicarage Road at the conclusion of their dismal campaign on May 22.
Hodgson was on a short-term contract after arriving to succeed the sacked Claudio Ranieri and was unable to prolong Watford’s one-season stay in the top-flight.
Watford’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed with a defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Edwards quit Forest Green after leading them to promotion from League Two, but he departed on bad terms with the club’s owner Dale Vince, who claimed Watford had negotiated the deal behind his back.
The 39-year-old is the latest in a long list of managers hired by Watford’s demanding owners the Pozzo Family.
He will become Watford’s eighth permanent manager since the start of 2018.
“Watford Football Club is delighted to confirm the appointment of Rob Edwards as its new head coach, effective after the conclusion of the current 2021/22 season,” a Watford statement said.
“Rob had a contractual provision allowing him to leave Forest Green Rovers at any time to discuss employment opportunities at other clubs and the Hornets are delighted to confirm our discussions concluded today.”
Edwards took over at Foret Green last year and masterminded their promotion to the third tier for the first time, including pipping Exeter to the title on the final day of the season.
He had previously worked as coach of England’s Under-16 team and Wolves’ Under-23s.
He also managed Wolves on an interim basis in 2016 and had a spell as boss of non-league Telford United.
Edwards’ rising reputation played a role in Vince’s frustration at the manner of his exit.
Vince launched a scathing attack on Watford and Edwards just hours before the appointment was made public.
Frustrated that he wasn’t informed of Watford’s interest by either party, Vince told Sky Sports: “He told me that he had been in negotiations with Watford and felt it was a great opportunity for him.
“Overwhelmingly for me the feeling was disappointment, because in football people come and go all of the time. The important thing is the manner of it.
“I wish him well, but it is poor from Watford, who claim to be starting a new era, and it is poor from Rob as well.
“Watford advised Rob not to tell us, specifically, so for me that doubles down on the deceit.
“It is the kind of thing which gives football a bad name and the kind of thing which shouldn’t happen, but occasionally does.”