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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Watford's 'special one'

By Simon Austin

Adrian Boothroyd celebrates Sunday's play-off win
Born: 8th February 1971, Bradford
Playing career: Huddersfield, Bristol Rovers, Hearts, Mansfield and Peterborough
Coaching: Peterborough (U17/ U19/ reserve team); Norwich (youth team); West Brom (youth development/ technical director); Leeds United (first-team coach); Watford (manager)
Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd did not get quite the reaction he had anticipated when he outlined his ambitions for the club at a pre-season board meeting.

"One or two of them fell off their chairs," he said.

Perhaps he shouldn't have been surprised. Watford had only narrowly avoided relegation two months earlier, and here he was insisting that they could achieve promotion.

As Boothroyd was only 34 and preparing for his first full season in management, it seemed more than a little far-fetched.

Yet the Hornets have fulfilled Boothroyd's prophesy by beating Leeds 3-0 in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

People said I was too young to be a manager, but I was born ready

I told the board I was looking for promotion - one or two of them fell off their chairs

My plan is to manage in the Premiership, then Europe and then international level

I want hungry people interested in being part of something bigger than themselves... people who want to live the dream

I like being under pressure... I've thrived on the chaos here

Chairman Graham Simpson is in no doubt as to who is responsible for the amazing turnaround at the club.

He said: "It's because of a man with this extraordinary ability. When he came on board 14 months ago, everyone said 'Adrian who?

"He's got man-management qualities, integrity, honesty and is able to get the best out of players. He's developed these youngsters and they now believe they can achieve anything."

Central defender Malky Mackay, who achieved his third straight promotion with Sunday's victory, has no doubt his manager will reach the top.

"I think he's got a massive future in the game," Mackay told BBC Sport.

"Aidy has got the coaching and technical ability and is always hungry to learn more. But what sets him apart are his man-management skills.

"If you get footballers playing for you and pushing themselves that extra 1%, it's a big thing. There aren't many managers who can do that.

"In the summer there was a lot of negative press about this club. Aidy had let a lot of experienced players go and the squad was full of youngsters.

"But he's created a learning environment for these kids - where they're learning about football every day - and they're thriving.

"When you've got a manager who's taking an interest in you, rather than looking out for himself, it makes a big difference.

"Team spirit's not something you can just click your fingers and get, it's something that's got to be built. We've got a great togetherness and spirit here and Aidy's responsible."

So Boothroyd will be locking horns with Jose Mourinho in the Premier League next season.

Malky Mackay
Mackay achieved his third straight promotion
And although the two managers are at opposite ends of the scale in terms of achievement, Boothroyd has much in common with "the Special One".

Bradford-born Boothroyd had an unspectacular career as a journeyman defender, playing for the likes of Huddersfield and Mansfield before injury forced him into retirement at the age of 26.

Like Mourinho, he devoted himself to becoming a top manager at a young age, watching training at clubs throughout Europe and tapping into the knowledge of top coaches.

Boothroyd's management style is also similar to Mourinho's. He is a superb motivator, tactically decisive and at the cutting edge of sports science and technology.

And he is certainly not short of confidence, saying he "was born to be a manager", and drawing up a "seven-point plan" culminating in international management before he had even become a boss.

The touchline brawl he sparked during Watford's play-off semi-final second leg win over Crystal Palace also showed he is no stranger to controversy.

Mackay says Watford are a club on the up. "I'm delighted I'm here - the board, management staff and players are all pushing in the one direction, which isn't the case at every club," he says.

There is no doubt that Watford's precocious young manager in the ascendant as well.

Leeds 0-3 Watford
21 May 06 |  Championship
Watford plan Premiership strategy
22 May 06 |  Championship
Boothroyd hails spirit of Watford
21 May 06 |  Championship
Agony to ecstasy for happy Hornets
22 May 06 |  Championship


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