Watford are on the brink of their five-year Premier League spell coming to an end.
The Hornets started woefully under Javi Gracia. The Spanish boss quickly burned through the credit he earned from reaching the FA Cup final just months earlier.
Quique Sanchez Flores returned to Vicarage Road but won just once in three months and was promptly shown the door once more.
The task fell to Nigel Pearson who jolted the Hornets into a stunning run of form before the initial buzz subsided. Assuming the hierarchy don’t pull the trigger on their third manager of the campaign, can Pearson revitalise his squad before it’s too late? He has nine Premier League fixtures left to accomplish his mission.
We spoke to Watford legend Luther Blissett ahead of the return, as well as rounding up everything you need to know about the Hornets.
Check out your complete guide to Watford’s 2019/20 season ahead of the Premier League restart.
Watford in 2019/20
Manager: Nigel Pearson
Top scorer: Troy Deeney (6 goals)
Most assists: Gerard Deulofeu (5 assists)
Check out our full list of Watford fixtures 2019/20.
Watford may be one of the most unpredictable Premier League units in years. Can you read them? Because I’m struggling to.
A never-ending merry-go-round of managers have each stamped a mark on the team, leaving the Hornets with a patchwork blanket squad. It’s not a bad squad, it’s just a bizarre one to analyse.
Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure are talented yet go missing too often to be relied upon. Ismail Sarr has grown to become a real handful, but it’s hard to judge whether he was riding a wave of form or class in the final weeks prior to lockdown.
Troy Deeney is the talismanic striker many clubs would dream to boast but he’s found the net just six times in 17 appearances so far in 2019/20.
Pearson has extracted sketchy results from his inherited jumble of players, from the sublime to the ridiculous. An initial seven-game unbeaten run was followed up with just one win in seven. And that was a 3-0 destruction of then-unbeaten Liverpool. They followed it up with a defeat to Crystal Palace.
The Hornets are a wild card side who can pose real danger to anyone on their day, but are just a capable of meek surrender. Who knows?
Luther Blissett says…
Q: What do you make of Watford’s season so far?
LB: It seems an awful long time ago when the season got started, I almost have the feeling that it’s finished and we just have that cup round or knockouts or play-offs to come now, but we still have nine games to play. It’s been a strange time, but our last game was a memorable one for Watford. That is the memory of the season since the turn of the year, winning that Liverpool game in the manner they did.
Q: Which players have impressed you most?
LB: It’s difficult to not mention [Ismaila] Sarr. He was so good in that [Liverpool] game and we’ve seen flashes of that over the period of time he’s been here. It’s really pleasing to see someone who has found that form for us when we really needed it. He was superb in that game, a bit of a revelation for us. At the back my other favourite at the moment is Adam Masina – he’s been very good. And Christian Kabasele looks to be finding that form that had other clubs talking to him. They’ve been very, very good for us.
Q: Which players have disappointed? Who has a point to prove?
LB: They’ve all got a point to prove. We’re fourth from bottom. We’re by no means out of the woods yet. The problem when you’re not performing as a unit is that players who have got that little bit something different about them, you’ll not see as much of it when the team is playing with indifferent form. It’s the consistency of the team that enables those players to be that cut above everybody else. Watford need to find themselves in that position being consistent with a team performance which enables the likes of [Gerard] Deulofeu and [Abdoulaye] Doucoure to show the level that they’ve shown in flashes this season.
Q: What effect will lockdown have on the team?
LB: For Watford, the rest will have done everybody good because injuries or niggles or whatever players may have had, it’s almost like a reset button. You’ve got nine games to go hell for leather to get the results. You can see the end now. You can see the end of the season whereas when you start normally it’s nine or more months away. This is nine games away so for all the players and staff and everyone involved.
Q: How do you rate Nigel Pearson this season?
LB: This break may work very well in his favour because he’s had a chance now to be speaking to his players pretty much every day without the pressures of their training sessions and all of those other things you do in a week. He can talk to them for longer about their game and what he wants from them without the distraction of playing the games. The jury’s out until the end of the season. A lot of people are saying ‘he’s this, he’s that’ but you can’t judge until the end of the season because there’s ups and downs. I always remember what Graham Taylor said: ‘at the end of the season, the table never lies’. I haven’t gone out and thought ‘oh yeah he’s brilliant at this’ or whatever, I’m looking at him thinking just keep doing the things you’re doing that bring success and at the end we can have a proper assessment.
Q: Where will Watford finish in the Premier League this season?
LB: I myself, like the Watford supporters, am hoping they’re going to be no lower down than where they are now! That would be perfect to finish in that position without being greedy, just be in the Premier League next season. It’s in their hands and they can surprise a few people with the levels of their performances when it all starts and they have an opportunity to finish higher.
Luther is involved with the Watford Helps initiative which aims to help vulnerable people throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period in various ways. To volunteer, donate, or simply read more on their great work, check out watford.gov.uk/COVID-Volunteers.
Looking for all the remaining Premier League matches and how to watch them? Check out our Premier League fixtures guide.