The sacking of Nigel Pearson was a huge surprise in terms of timing – however very few fans were surprised it happened, considering Watford’s past record.
We all know by now how they club have dismissed coach after coach, with none of them lasting over a year. The only exception is Malky Mackay who led to club from June 2009 to June 2011.
An astonishing trend
Nigel Pearson is unfortunately just one name in a list of victims to feel the wrath of the Watford board. Ever since Mackay left in June 2011 they have been through 11 managers (not including Quique Sanchez Flores twice) and that trend seems to be continuing.
Sean Dyche, Gianfranco Zola, Giuseppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia Sunyent, Billy McKinlay, Slavisa Jokanovic, Quique Sanchez Flores, Walter Mazzari, Marco Silva, Javi Gracia and finally Nigel Pearson.
Sunyent unfortunately had to resign due to medical reasons, however, it doesn’t stop this list being thoroughly astonishing.
Sannino, Sunyent, McKinlay, Jokanovic were all coaching the team between August and October 2014 – a crazy four head coaches in the space of five weeks. Jokanovic was signed on a short term contract and after finishing 2nd in the Championship, he failed to agree a new deal and was replaced with Quique Sanchez Flores.
Flores guided them to a mid-table finish and also took them to an FA Cup semi final. He was sacked at the end of the season and replaced by Walter Mazzarri. He was then sacked after finishing 17th and was replaced by the promising Marco Silva.
Marco Silva had a lot of hype surrounding him at the time after almost keeping Hull City up. This was supposed to be a new era for the club.
After a good start to the campaign he was linked with the Everton job. During this period and in the subsequent two months, the team’s performances became increasingly poor (five points from 30 in 10 Premier League matches), with fans blaming his loss of focus with the club as putting them at risk of relegation.
He was then sacked in January 2018 and the circus continued. Next came Javi Gracia and with that Watford’s most successful appointment to date. Gracia guided them to safety in the second half of the season and remained for the beginning of the next one (18/19).
In that season they eventually finished 11th but were pushing for a European place for large parts of the campaign. They also reached only their second FA Cup final in history but were smashed 6-0 by Manchester City. He was sacked in September 2019 after a terrible start to the campaign.
The season didn’t get any easier when Quique Sanchez Flores rejoined and failed to lift the team’s form – lasting a measly 10 matches.
This is where Pearson comes in. He managed to completely turn the team’s fortunes around. They were rock bottom with zero confidence and Pearson managed to guide them out of the relegation zone.
Along the way they of course ended Liverpool’s hope of an invincibles season with a stunning 3-0 victory. They were seemingly set to be safe from relegation, three points above the relegation places. However, he was sacked with two games to go and with results going against the club, they now sit inside the bottom three on goal difference.
What now for Watford?
Aston Villa pulled off their result of the season as they beat Arsenal 1-0 to force the Hornets back into relegation peril. With their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City ( a team they have an awful record against) they now have to get a result against Arsenal too and hope Villa lose to West Ham – who are already pretty much safe.
Pearson’s sacking caused plenty of outrage between neutrals and Watford fans. His record of seven wins, five draws and 10 defeats from 22 games was very decent considering how the team were playing before he took over.
Twitter was awash with “they deserve to go down for that” messages aimed at the club. As Premier League fans we have all become accustomed to this constant cycle of sackings – but it is something that fans don’t agree with.
According to Sky Sports:
A “frank exchange of views” between Nigel Pearson and Watford owner Gino Pozzo after Friday’s defeat to West Ham was the catalyst that led to the head coach’s sacking.
Concerns over team selection, substitutions and the team’s performances since the Premier League returned to action had already eaten away at relations between Pearson and Pozzo, along with his technical director Filippo Giraldi.
It is understood Pearson still maintained support among a group of players in the Watford dressing room.
However, despite breathing life into Watford’s troubled season – they were bottom of the league, with just one win from 15 games when he arrived – some players were less supportive.
The owners held serious reservations in particular about their team’s first-half performances, with Watford failing to score the first goal in all seven games since lockdown.
Survival seems very difficult for a club who now need, more than ever, a bit of luck and good fortune to smile upon them. Is this karma for the growing number of managerial casualties? Or just a message that constant change can damage a club eventually?
Whatever it is, Watford Football Club are in danger of the drop, and the last weekend of the Premier League will prove hugely significant for the clubs future.
For more reaction to Nigel Pearson’s sacking see our latest YouTube video below: