Wat­ford sack Pear­son fol­low­ing owner dis­agree­ment

Man­ager’s dis­missal fol­lows Gra­cia and Sanchez Flores ex­its Dis­agree­ment with owner Pozzo af­ter West Ham de­feat

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Mike McGrath, Ja­son Burt and John Percy

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

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