When Nigel Pearson walked into Vicarage Road in December, he walked into a club in a desperate situation. Last season’s FA cup finalists were sat firmly at the bottom of the table , 7 points away from safety and with only 8 points from the last 15 games. Pearson was immediately enshrined as a saviour by fans, leading the team to four straight wins from four.
How has this Watford hero now been sacked by the club he came to save only seven months later, and with just two games left of the season?
As well as winning 26 points from 20 games, which would place Watford in 13th place given the form of other teams during that period, and ending Liverpool’s unbeaten run, ruining their potential invincible season, Pearson also led Watford to 17th place. Where safety from relegation come the end of season once looked near impossible for the Hornets, Pearson had gifted them a real chance of survival.
Given his success, it came as a great surprise and possible injustice when the club announced they had fired Pearson last Sunday with only two games remaining. Robbie Savage called the brutal decision “absolutely ridiculous” and questioned why the Pozzo family chose to remove somebody who had, “revived hope of staying in the Premier League”, for the players and fans.
Nevertheless, there have been some who have criticised Pearson for his stubbornness over tactics and persistent use of a 4-2-3-1 formation even in games when it clearly was not working. Furthermore, Watford’s performances following the re-commencement of the season have been uninspired, conceding first in every game since the restart. With that being noted, ultimately Pearson had the best win rate of any Watford manager in the Premier League ever and it is extremely difficult to justify his dismissal.
Ultimately Pearson had the best win rate of any Watford manager in the Premier League ever, and it’s extremely difficult to justify his dismissal.
Hayden Mullins was picked to replace Pearson until the end of the campaign however his arrival was not able to boost the squad enough to defeat Manchester City in his first game in charge. If he is able to manage a win on Sunday against Arteta’s Arsenal, he could finish his season with a 50% win rate and another season in the Premier League for Watford, depending on Aston Villa’s result against West Ham.
Mullins is Watford’s fourth manager this season alone and it is becoming more and more obvious that the issues at the club are far deeper-lying than the manager. One manager being sacked in a season is unfortunate, but in the current climate not unusual. Three managers being sacked in a season is clearly unsustainable and calls into question the higher structure at the club and the environment that has been created there.
Featured image: YouTube via Watford FC: “‘I ALMOST MISSED THE CALL’ – NIGEL PEARSON’S FIRST WATFORD INTERVIEW”
Last modified: 28th July 2020