What Could Alberto Garrido Bring to Watford?

Watford FC announce Garrido as First Coach

You could be forgiven if you missed the news that Watford recruited Alberto Garrido from Real Madrid Castilla, on a two-year deal, to be their new First Team Coach. It was hardly a headline-making story outside of Watford circles but nevertheless, it represents an exciting acquisition for the Championship side. As Garrido is something of an unknown figure in English football though, we thought we would take a closer look at him and the potential impact of his appointment.

A New Look Watford

Before assessing what Garrido can bring to Vicarage Road, we want to give his appointment some wider context. Tom Cleverley, who secured the Head Coach role on a permanent basis in April has been carefully selecting his supporting cast. Damon Lathrope is Cleverly’s right-hand man, serving as Assistant Head Coach while Armand Kavaja is the new First Team Development Coach. Both these appointments took place in May so the search to find a new First Team Coach has required a little more time.

The hope is that this fresh approach will give Watford a much-needed breath of fresh air following a disappointing 2023/24 season which saw them finish in 15th place in the second tier.

Garrido’s Background

Alberto Garrido did not make a name for himself as a player, but he has been in the coaching game for a long time. Now 48 years old, he has spent the last 15 of them working with Real Madrid Castilla, which is the reserve team for Real Madrid. He had been working alongside Santiago Solari and Guti before taking the Assistant Coach position when Raul became manager of Castilla in 2019.

So, Garrido has spent the past five years working alongside Raul, and for the avoidance of doubt, this is the same Raul who scored over 300 goals for Real Madrid. Naturally, Watford fans will be hoping that he picked up a few striking tips he can pass on to the likes of Mileta Rajovic and Vakoun Bayo. During his time at Real Madrid Castilla, Garrido worked closely with a whole bunch of top-quality players in their formative years.

Specifically, Garrido played a big part in the development of current Real Madrid players Dani Carvajal and Nacho, plus PSG’s Achraf Hakimi and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard. The likes of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo also featured for Real’s reserve team during Garrido’s time there but he was reportedly less involved in the pair’s development. Nevertheless, having worked closely with some truly superb young players, this gives Garrido an impressive coaching CV.

What Can Garrido Bring to Watford

The thing with backroom staff is that their impact is often rather unnoticed as the players and manager take the brunt of the criticism for underperforming or praise for overperforming. Behind-the-scenes work though can give the players that extra 5% throughout a season and this can be the difference between clinching a play-off place or just missing out. Each individual coach is also responsible for just a piece in the puzzle so it is extremely tough to isolate their individual contribution to a team’s performance.

So, while Garrido may only be a sizeable cog in a big machine, this is not to say he cannot have a significant impact at Vicarage Road. One element he brings is something Cleverley mentioned himself when the signing was unveiled. In the words of the Watford gaffer, “We are trying to rebuild a winning culture around the club again and he comes from the most successful culture in world football.”

This idea of a winning culture is seen as being increasingly important in modern football. It is the idea that in order to succeed you need to have the belief that you are going to do so, even when faced with adversity. Although Real Madrid Castilla are nowhere near as successful as the main team, being in an environment of winners and surrounded by these top players can only help.

The other point Cleverley made about Garrido was the Spaniard’s history of developing young players. This can be important for a team like Watford who in the 2023/24 Championship Season had the joint fifth youngest average age when looking at players used according to Transfermarkt data. With the Hornets having plenty of talented youngsters on the books, some already with Championship experience but not all, Garrido could have a positive impact on them.

Having a Spanish-speaking coach will certainly be of no harm either. Although the current Watford squad does not have many players fluent in the language, it might now make Spanish speakers a little more appealing than they once were. It is also possible that Garrido could recommend some potential loan signings from Real Madrid Castilla as it is a place bursting full of talent.

The Spanish Appeal

As a nation, Spain’s approach to football is one that attracts many plaudits. Even among young ages, there is a real focus on technical ability and being comfortable on the ball, rather than raw physicality. The nation’s footballing philosophy has been attributed to their successive European Championship wins in 2008 and 2012, plus the World Cup win in 2010.

Thanks to the way Spain views football and the training methods popular in the country, coaches from there are generally quite sought after. In the Premier League for example, of the 18 clubs with a manager at the time of writing (with the Brighton and Leicester spots still vacant), five are from Spain. Watford themselves had enjoyed some of their best moments in more recent years with Spanish head coaches.

Spanish Watford Head Coaches

Name In Job Notable Achievements
Oscar Garcia Sep 2014 to Sep 2014 N/A
Quique Sanchez Flores June 2015 to May 2016

Sep 2019 to Dec 2019

FA Cup Semi-Final 2015/16
Javi Gracia Jan 2018 to Sep 2019 FA Cup Final 2018/19

Highest Premier League Finish (11th)

Xisco Munoz Dec 2020 to Oct 2021 Promotion to Premier League

Although Garrido is not a head coach like the men listed above, this is just to illustrate Watford’s relative success when Spanish coaches have been involved at the club.