#COVID19Chronicles-97: July 20, 2020: Passengers? All change for Watford!

Normally, if you Google ‘Pearson, passengers’ you’d get results for flights into Toronto’s main airport. But, if you add ‘Watford’ you get this:

Well, Watford’s manager, Nigel Pearson, was clearly feeling that some of his players were just going along for the ride when saying some were ‘passengers’. That’s one of the low blows not usually given by managers in public about their players and Pearson got a bit of stick from several TV pundits for his remarks. But, for his frankness, I suspect, which may be a sign that he has lost faith in the team, he will no longer be a passenger on the team bus as he was sacked yesterday with 2 games to play.

This comes hot on the heels of his now former team capitulating in a relegation battle with West Ham, going down 3-1 and not appearing to have much real fight in them. Goalkeeper Ben Foster looked suspect on the first and last goal, though it was a stonker shot from long range by Declan Rice:

In a sense, Watford gave Pearson ‘What for’, which is a British slang expression for punishment.

Pearson was on the verge of another miracle, having taken over Watford and their being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas and looking set for the drop. But, as he’d done with Leicester City in 2014/15, also bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, but managed to survive, it seemed he was at it again. If Watford survive, then Pearson is due his props. If they drop, egg will be on the face of the owners.

He’s been a colourful manager and caught up in a few memorable verbal and physical confrontations and a sacking that wasn’t at Leicester in 2015, when in February, following a home defeat by Crystal Palace in a game in which, at one point, Pearson put his hands around Palace’s James McArthur’s neck, while on the ground, the press reported that Pearson had been sacked. He also famously called a journalist an “ostrich”, “stupid” and “daft” during a post-match news conference after a defeat to Chelsea in April 2015. He was voted manager of the month in April 2015 after a series of great results; but for his heroics, for which he was sacked in June 2016 (‘Thanks, fellas!’), Leicester would not have been in the position to pull off the most amazing footballing miracle of winning the Premier League the following season, as 5000:1 outsiders.

Watford should have a place in the hearts of all Jamaicans firstly because of Jamaican-born Luther Blissett, whose striking form helped propel Watford from the Fourth through First divisions in the late-1970s-1980s. Secondly, as the home of Jamaican-born John Barnes, who got his professional start with them before soaring to greater heights with Liverpool, and played in the 1990 title winning side. So, we wish them luck in the fight to avoid relegation. If they escape, maybe former owner Sir Elton John has another song to sing, having been literally instrumental in setting the club on the road to much higher ambitions to make it to the then-First Division.

With their historic links, it’s somewhat ironic that in this horror season, Watford found inspiration to inflict a first defeat on Liverpool this season, when they have become champions of the top tier in English football for the first time in 30 years, when Barnes played for them.

It’s a funny old game 🙂