After the sudden departure of Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson yesterday evening, fans took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the news that came only two weeks after Watson told the media he would be seeing out his contract that would have kept him at the AJ Bell for another two years.
A former Red Devils player, Watson took on the role of head coach in 2014 and has been admired by fans for taking them from the brink of relegation in 2016, to their first Grand Final three years later.
After they were labelled as “one-season wonders” off the back of their Grand Final appearance, Watson took the Red Devils to their second major final in a year last month, their first Coral Challenge Cup Final contest since 1969.
More recently, Salford became more appealing for possible investors as they became debt-free for the first time since 2013 at a cost of a six-point deduction.
This is why fans at the club seemed confused following the announcement of Watson’s departure, as Salford were definitely a club that were on the up both on and off the field.
Utterly gutted, baffled and disappointed with the Watson news @SalfordDevils. Desperately trying to find the exit door to get away from 2020.
— 🐝 Alistair Ward 🇪🇺 (@aligward) November 9, 2020
Watson came out two weeks ago and told SkySports that he would be staying at Salford, amid rumours he was being scouted by Hull FC: “I think the timing and everything else that’s going on with COVID, it’s probably not right for us at the moment so they’ll be nothing going any further from here on in.”
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) October 26, 2020
But it is believed Watson will be moving to Huddersfield Giants, not Hull FC, as they are without a head coach after the departure of Simon Woolford in September.
Despite having a bigger spending budget, a number of fans have viewed this as a step down for the 44-year-old.
How moving to Huddersfield can be described as a step up is beyond me. A run of bad results and they'll sack him, because they're a sacking club. Gutted, but the king is dead, long live the king
— Mike Barnett (@barnettmike26) November 9, 2020
And more importantly HOW he's going. Not two weeks ago he put Hull's offer to bed and 24-48 hours he was talking about Salford's plans for 2021 and how great the lads were. Now he's buggered off. Can't blame fans for feeling mugged off.
— TRK (@TRobKRL) November 9, 2020
Watson signed a contract extension in February of this year to see his stay extended to at least 2022. Despite the abruptness and shock of his decision to leave, some fans remain positive and upbeat for 2021.
I’m strangely optimistic now all of a sudden. Chance for Paul and @Ianblease1 to get a hungry coach in with the squad that they have assembled for next year. Very disappointed but not worried in the slightest 👹
— Luke (@piko_6) November 9, 2020
Some real raw emotion out there at the moment for watto’s decition. We trust Paul King and Ian Blease to make the correct decision regarding finding somebody to continue to move the club forward.
This is a time for calm heads. Trust the process. The foundations have been laid…
— Devil In The Detail (@ditdsrd) November 9, 2020
Compensation between the 44-year-old and Salford has been agreed, as the Red Devils begin the search for a replacement.