Watford have sacked manager Nigel Pearsonwith two games remaining of the season. Pearson was dismissed on Sunday afternoon after the Watford hierarchy deemed Friday’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham unacceptable, a result which leaves them three points above the relegation zone. Pearson had overseen a remarkable upturn in results after taking charge in December, when the club had amassed just eight points from their opening 15 matches, but that turnaround did not stop Watford acting.
Pearson has galvanised a divided dressing room since being appointed Quique Sánchez Flores’s successor and, since taking charge, Watford have yielded more points than Leicester and seven other top-flight rivals. It is understood the Watford technical director, Filippo Giraldi, informed Pearson and his assistant, Craig Shakespeare, of their fate on Sunday. The decision is understood to have come as a surprise to Pearson, who was under contract until the end of the season. No agreement was in place between both parties with regards to next season.
Pearson had steered Watford to the brink of safety after an extraordinary turnaround, including memorable wins over Manchester United and Liverpool, the latter abruptly ending Jürgen Klopp’s hopes of an unbeaten season. They had won two of their past three matches to leave their destiny in their own hands before facing Manchester City on Tuesday in the penultimate game of the season ahead of a trip to Arsenal next Sunday. They are three points clear of Bournemouth, whose goal difference is inferior and have only one game remaining after losing to Southampton on Sunday, and Aston Villa. Hayden Mullins, the club’s Under-23 coach, is expected to take caretaker charge, as he did when Sánchez Flores was dismissed.
Pearson is the third permanent manager to depart Vicarage Road this season, with Javi Gracia sacked in September, four months on from leading Watford to an FA Cup final, and Sánchez Flores, who was sacked after failing to overturn a desperate start to the season. Whoever replaces Pearson on a permanent basis will be the club’s 13th such appointment since Sean Dyche took charge nine years ago.