Watford hoping Pearson can plot another miracle escape
LONDON - It could be argued Watford require a sporting miracle to stay in the Premier League but in turning to Nigel Pearson they have hired a manager with form in that department.
Pearson begins his Watford reign away to runaway leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday where anything other than a drubbing might be considered a positive outcome.
Bottom club Watford are already six points adrift of the safety zone and survival hopes of clubs at the foot of the table at Christmas are as gloomy as that of festive turkeys.
But the straight-talking Pearson found himself in similar territory at Leicester in 2014 having got them promoted the previous season. Indeed, they were still bottom in March, but they won seven and drew one of their last nine games to escape the drop, only for Pearson to be sacked a few weeks later.
Italian Claudio Ranieri took over and the rest, as they say, is history as Leicester claimed a fairytale title using many of the players Pearson brought to the club.
Not even Watford fans fuelled with pre-Christmas spirits will imagine a scenario where Watford claw their way to safety and then win the Premier League title in 2020-21.
But they will have faith that Pearson, who was assistant to Bryan Robson when West Bromwich Albion pulled off a great escape in 2004-05 having been bottom at Christmas, can give them a fighting chance of extending their top-flight stay.
Watford have already sacked two managers this season and have one win from 16 league games, but Pearson, who had a brief stint at Derby County and then with Belgian club OH Leuven since leaving Leicester, said the first task would be to provide the leadership that has been missing at Vicarage Road.
"The very fact I'm here re-emphasises in my mind that I'm really excited about the prospect of turning our fortunes into more positive form," the 56-year-old said.
"It's really good to be back in the Premier League and I'm really motivated to get us moving in the right direction as quickly as possible. Speaking to the club before I joined it was clear they someone with my type of style coming in and galvanising the team and the staff.
"It won't be easy, but possible. My main concern is to provide the right framework to allow us to move forward. We have to start winning football matches.
"Fear can be a real inhibitor and more than anything the players need to be free enough to go out and play."
Things do not get much easier for Pearson after Liverpool with a rejuvenated Manchester United up next, but he believes there is still time to avoid relegation.
"We will have setbacks, you can't change things overnight but our destiny is very much in our own hands," he said.
"We have to look at where we are and formulate a pathway that will give us the best chance."Reuters