Watford sack Pearson following owner disagreement
Manager’s dismissal follows Gracia and Sanchez Flores exits Disagreement with owner Pozzo after West Ham defeat
Watford have sacked Nigel Pearson with two games left and the club three points above the relegation zone. The news, revealed by
Telegraph Sport, was confirmed last night in a brief 49-word club statement. Pearon’s sacking comes after he and club owner Gino Pozzo had a significant difference of opinion following the 3-1 defeat to West Ham on Friday. Hayden Mullins, with Graham Stack as his assistant, will take up the position of interim head coach for the remaining two games.
Watford have taken the extraordinary decision to sack Nigel Pearson with just two games left of the Premier League season after he had a disagreement with club owner Gino Pozzo.
The difference of opinion occurred following Watford’s 3-1 defeat away to West Ham United on Friday night which left the club just three points clear of the relegation zone. Pearson is the third head coach Watford have sacked this season in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation.
The Daily Telegraph revealed Pearson had been axed in what is the final week of the campaign with under-23 coach Hayden Mullins and his assistant, Graham Stack, taking charge of the last two matches.
Pearson’s sacking came as a shock after he steered the club from bottom of the table in December to the brink of safety with, also, recent back-to-back victories giving him a huge chance of maintaining his record of never being relegated as a manager.
However, it is understood there has been growing frustration within the club’s hierarchy about poor firsthalf displays of late with the fear that Pearson was not getting through to the under-performing players, who were called into a team meeting yesterday afternoon to be informed about the sacking. Watford had clearly targeted the West Ham fixture as one where they could secure their top-flight status but went 3-0 down inside 36 minutes.
Mullins, who took charge as caretaker earlier in the season when Pearson was finalising a deal to take over from Quique Sanchez Flores, will oversee the fixtures against Manchester City and Arsenal. It is hoped the decision to remove Pearson, with his assistant Craig Shakespeare also leaving, will give the players a chance to regroup and refocus for the last week of the season.
Pearson has guided Watford to a position where they may not need to earn another point to stay up, depending on other results. As the players were being told yesterday about Pearson’s dismissal, Bournemouth had conceded their first goal in their defeat by Southampton, which increased Watford’s chances of survival.
It marks a quick turnover of managers since the club reached the FA Cup final last season, when they were heavily beaten by City. Javi Gracia’s 18-month spell in charge ended four games into the season with just one point on the board.
Sanchez Flores was brought back to the club after the Spaniard had overseen the 2015-16 survival campaign, but he lasted just three months before Pozzo made another change. Pearson was drafted in and led an upturn in results that has given the club a chance of survival heading into the final week of the season. It is understood Pearson will remain in line for a survival bonus should the club stay up.
Watford picked up points immediately after Pearson’s appointment with victories over Manchester United, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Christmas period, while also picking up a point against Sheffield United.
Pearson also masterminded the first defeat Liverpool suffered this season on their way to the title, with the 3-0 result boosting Watford’s chances of survival heading into football’s break for the coronavirus pandemic. However, Watford began slowly in Project Restart, taking only a point from their first four matches. lockdown rules. Wins over Norwich and Newcastle had raised hopes of the club remaining in the league for the sixth consecutive season, but the decision was made to relieve Pearson and Shakespeare of their duties, leaving the staff shocked at the timing.
Sudden change: Nigel Pearson was sacked yesterday with Hayden Mullins taking over