The escapologist! Watford boss Nigel Pearson is at it again

The escapologist! Watford boss Nigel Pearson is at it again as he inches the Hornets to safety… but he isn’t getting complacent after being taught a harsh lesson 30 years ago

  • Watford beat Newcastle 2-1 on Saturday to edge the Hornets closer to safety
  • Thirty years ago Nigel Pearson was relegated as Sheffield Wednesday captain
  • They thought they were safe on 43 points but Luton pipped them at the end
  • Pearson was adamant that the Hornets would not be complacent this season

Thirty years have passed but Sheffield Wednesday’s slide from the top flight in 1990 left scars on everyone at the club.

They thought they were safe on 40 points, won their penultimate game to reach 43 and still went down on the final day as Luton finished with three unlikely wins and climbed past them on goal difference.

Nigel Pearson was Wednesday’s captain and he will not let his Watford players fall into the trap of thinking they are home and hosed.

Nigel Pearson is adamant that Watford would not be complacent despite Saturday’s victory

Pearson (right) was remarkably relegated as Sheffield Wednesday captain 30 years ago

Watford 4-2-3-1: Foster 7; Femenia 7, Kabasele 6, Dawson 6.5, Masina 6.5; Capoue 7.5, Hughes 7; Sarr 6.5, Doucoure 6, Welbeck 6 (Gray 90); Deeney 8 (Cleverley 85).

Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Chalobah, Cathcart, Pedro, Pussetto, Pereyra.

Goals: Deeney 52 pen, 82 pen

Bookings: Hughes

Manager: Nigel Pearson 7

Newcastle 4-2-3-1: Dubravka 7; Manquillo 6, Lascelles 7 (Lazaro 87), Fernandez 6, Rose 5 (Krafth 79); Scharr 6, Shelvey 6.5; Saint-Maximin 5.5, Almiron 6, Ritchie 6 (Joelinton 72, 5); Gayle 6.5 (Bentaleb 79).

Subs: Darlow, Muto, Yedlin, Atsu, M.Longstaff.

Goals: Gayle 23

Bookings: Lascelles, Manquillo, Fernandez,

Manager: Steve Bruce 6

Ref: Craig Pawson 6

‘Our job is not done yet,’ said Watford midfielder Will Hughes after Saturday’s 2-1 win against Newcastle.

‘We can’t rely on other teams. We have still got three games to go and we are going to go into them as we have the last couple. Until we are mathematically safe, we’re not going to speak about next season.’

Pearson will not tolerate complacency and yet inside he will know he is inching closer to another incredible managerial rescue act.

Watford had won only once in the Premier League when he was appointed in December, the club’s third head coach of the season.

They had only nine points, were six adrift of safety and did not sign a first-team player in the January transfer window.

He was the last desperate throw of the dice for a club refusing to accept relegation and he took the job because the offers had been scarce since leaving Leuven in Belgium. Pearson set about organising, motivating, inspiring and began gathering points.

He led his squad with empathy during a difficult lockdown, when captain Troy Deeney was among the most vocal of the players who thought the Premier League was rushing back. When standards slipped after the restart it was easy to assume some players did not have the appetite for a fight, but his message was to stay calm and two comeback wins in the space of four days have followed.

Record signing Ismaila Sarr is flickering into his best form and talisman Deeney was back among the goals on Saturday with two penalties against Newcastle.

Pearson initially signed a deal until the end of May and then an extension to keep him in charge through the delayed season. Watford have the option to trigger a new contract to keep him. If they decide against it, there will be no shortage of takers. If he succeeds in staying up, it will be a feat of escapology to rank alongside those he achieved when he was in charge of Carlisle, Southampton and Leicester.

Troy Deeney kept his cool from the spot as Watford came from behind to beat Newcastle 2-1

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