Deeney ad­mits his shock at Pear­son’s sud­den dis­missal

Wat­ford captain says team must ‘re­spect the de­ci­sion’ Care­taker Mullins to con­sult ex-man­ager be­fore City match

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Jason Burt

Wat­ford captain Troy Deeney has spo­ken of his shock at the club’s de­ci­sion to sack head coach Nigel Pear­son with just two games to go in the Premier League cam­paign.

“You get to a point in foot­ball where you are not sur­prised any­more, but I would say this one sur­prised me and took me back a bit,” the 32-year-old striker ad­mit­ted. “I wasn’t an­tic­i­pat­ing that was go­ing to be the sit­u­a­tion we’d walk into on Sun­day. We had an up-and-down week.”

Pear­son was dis­missed following the crush­ing 3-1 de­feat away to West Ham United on Fri­day, a game the club had tar­geted to gain the points to guar­an­tee sur­vival, with the head coach in­volved in a heated row with club owner Gino Pozzo af­ter the match.

Pear­son was sacked on Sun­day when he ar­rived for train­ing, with the de­ci­sion taken by Pozzo and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Filippo Gi­raldi. He is be­ing re­placed for the fix­tures at home to Manch­ester City and away to Arse­nal by Hay­den Mullins. He ar­rived at the train­ing ground and was called into a meeting with Pozzo and Chair­man Scott Duxbury who asked him once again to take tem­po­rary charge, hav­ing over­seen two games when Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked and be­fore Pear­son was ap­pointed in De­cem­ber.

The Wat­ford play­ers held their own meeting to dis­cuss the de­vel­op­ments, while Pozzo and Duxbury then ad­dressed ev­ery­one as the club tried to re­fo­cus for the fi­nal two games, in­clud­ing next Sun­day’s fix­ture away to Arse­nal.

“We won two games [against Nor­wich and New­cas­tle] and you’d like to think we would have got a better re­sult against West Ham, but that wasn’t to be and the club made the de­ci­sion,” Deeney said.

“You have to re­spect that de­ci­sion. Again they pay us, they are our bosses es­sen­tially and we have to re­spect the de­ci­sion and give all the sup­port you can to good people like Hay­den and [as­sis­tant] ‘Stacky’ (Gra­ham Stack).”

Mullins, mean­while, re­vealed he would speak to Pear­son be­fore the side faced City.

“I texted Nige, tried to ring him, missed him. He tried to get me back and missed me,” Mullins said.

“Yes­ter­day evening, he left me a voice mes­sage and we will catch up, I’m sure, at some point to­day. It’s been re­ally busy but we’ve kind of had brief contact, al­though we haven’t spo­ken [yet]. He must un­der­stand the point of view and what the sit­u­a­tion is at the mo­ment.”

Nev­er­the­less Pear­son, like many, was shocked by Wat­ford’s de­ci­sion. He posted on social me­dia that he was “over­whelmed” by the good­will mes­sages from the club’s fans following his dis­missal. Hav­ing ar­rived in De­cem­ber with Wat­ford bot­tom of the Premier League, with just one win, he led them out of the bot­tom three.

It also means Wat­ford are look­ing for a 12th per­ma­nent man­ager since the Pozzo family bought the club eight years ago. “The club makes its de­ci­sions and has its rea­sons,” Mullins, who is the un­der­23s coach, said. “For me, I work for the foot­ball club and I have been asked to step in and be care­taker for the next two games.”

Who takes over de­pends on which di­vi­sion Wat­ford find them­selves in and a fac­tor in dis­miss­ing Pear­son was the fear that they would not only lose against City and Arse­nal but could lose badly, af­fect­ing goal dif­fer­ence – which may deter­mine who goes down.

Test­ing time: Troy Deeney (left) said he had not ex­pected an end to Nigel Pear­son’s reign, de­spite the costly de­feat by West Ham

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