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
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