Only several weeks ago Watford was in the last place of the English Premier League. The team was struggling on both ends of the pitch and looked doomed. Most people expected to see the Hornets go down.
That’s when the board decided to change the manager for a second time this season and appointed Nigel Pearson. The former Leicester boss had to wait for a long time before getting another opportunity in the English Premier League but he has made it count so far.
Watford collected 13 points in Pearson’s first five games at the helm, despite the tough schedule. The latest 3-0 victory over Bournemouth away from home was enough to lift the Hornets out of the bottom three.
The big question is what did Pearson change to elevate the team in such a stunning fashion?
Defending from the Front
Probably the biggest change since Pearson has arrived is the discipline of the side in terms of defending. Every single player is working had to protect the goal, even the forwards.
The best example is the performance of Gerard Deulofeu. The Barcelona youngster is undisputedly one of Watford’s most talented players. He has pace and skill that could beat any defender but he didn’t put too much effort without the ball under the previous Watford managers.
If you look at the Deulofeu now, you will be amazed by his work rate. The winger is running his socks off and the same applies to every single player on the pitch. As a result, Watford has kept a bunch of clean sheets and beat teams like Manchester United and Wolverhampton.
Attacking with Purpose and Penetration
The new-found resilience of Watford impacts the team on the other end of the pitch too. For a stathe central midfielders often win the ball high and that opens the door to fast counters.
Just take a look at the last couple of games and you will see plenty of examples. The Hornets are deadly in transition thanks to the direct style of play and the many ball recoveries in the opposition’s half.
On top of that, the confidence of the side is on another level. The forwards don’t feel the pressure of having to score at any cost. They now know that the defense can bail them and the composure up front is on a completely new level.
If you add the return of the talismanic skipper Troy Deeney and Watford is no longer the toothless team it used to be.
It’s still early and the Hornets are not out of danger yet. Watford must continue to win games to survive in the English Premier League but the signs are good. I don’t think many people would be willing against Nigel Pearson and his boys right now.