With the Hornets winning their last three out of four games and drawing one, you’d think that the club has sort of have a hold on things.
Recently, Watford lost their match against Tranmere after being up 3-0 in the FA Cup match. The goals came in for Watford when Tom Dele-Bashiru scored his first goal in his first start for the club. Not two minutes later, Nathaniel Chalobah added another goal, bringing their lead up 2-0. 34 minutes later, it had seemed that Roberto Pereyra had sealed the game after he scored a third Watford goal.
However, in a not-so-surprising turn of events, Watford let their lead slip away. An hour into the match and Tranmere was able to score a goal after Connor Jennings’ disallowed goal was overturned by VAR. With 12 minutes remaining, defender Manny Monthe was able to score a goal before Mullin scored a third goal 87 minutes into the match.
With the club’s focus on mostly surviving relegation from the Premier League, Nigel Pearson started contemplating the changes to the club’s shirt if ever they are to get relegated to League One. Dele-Bashiru, the Nigeria Under-20 international, signed a six-year deal at Watford last summer after he was released by Manchester City. Playing in this match was only his second appearance for the club, but 12 minutes into his full debut, he was celebrating his first senior goal.
Similarly, Pearson stressed that the Premier League is and should be the club’s priority. He also hinted that the 3-3 FA Cup third-round draw with the Tranmere Rovers has ‘reinforced his thinking about the squad currently at his disposal. The Hornets seemed to have the game all wrapped up, but an injury to Chalobah forced a change at the start of the second half. This led to the club’s somewhat crumble and ultimately, them giving up three goals.
A red card was given to Pereyra late in the game which proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite the loss, Pearson didn’t apologize for the result of the match nor for the changes he made at halftime. ‘For me, the priority has got to be the Premier League. I can’t sit in front of you and try to give you a feeling that everything is equal in terms of how we look at competitions. Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority, he said.
‘If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available, but we don’t at the minute, we have quite a lengthy injury list and I can’t afford as a football club to put ourselves into a situation where we go into the league program with even fewer players available. It’s relatively simple like that as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got to make decisions based on what’s right for our season. Of course, I would have liked to have gone through today, and at half-time, coming in as we did, I would have expected us to see it through. But when you have an injury at half-time and then two players come off because they’ve got cramp it just shows you the situation we find ourselves in.
‘There are lessons to be learned and a good experience for those youngsters, but hopefully, the take-home message for them will be they’ve done alright today, but they also need to be technically and potentially good enough, they’ve got to be physically good enough as well. I’m sitting here today and, yes, I’m disappointed but I’m also in a position where I can say I’ve learned quite a bit about players today and that’s really important too’.
When he was asked whet When he was asked whether or not the results of the match had changed his thinking with the transfer window now wide open, he said, ‘I think what it’s done is probably reinforced what we already know about the squad. Clearly having the number of options we have limits our options and I think one of the things that you’ve got to always look at is whether you know what your best side is.
‘I think we’ve got a relatively settled side, we’ve got competition for places and I would have liked to have had the option to look at one or two players in slightly different positions today, but because of the substitutions that we had to make through injuries and players not being able to sustain performance meant we couldn’t look at what I would have liked to have looked at.
With Pereyra’s red card, it was the third time in three games where Watford was reduced to 10 men. Coach Pearson expressed his frustration about this but said that ‘the apparent lack of VAR involvement in a tie which saw two Tranmere goals effectively come as the result of decisions from Stockley Park’.
‘To have another sending off is really frustrating of course, and if we’re talking about VAR decisions I’m not sure that was even looked at. I’m told, I’ve not seen it and I’m certainly not looking for excuses or trying to have a pop at officials, but I’m told it’s petulant but that’s about it. It’s a bit frustrating that compounds on top of the result’.
To end on a positive note (it depends on how you look at things), the Hornets could end up facing either the Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round. Before that, they will have to beat the Tranmere Rovers in their replay match. This is following their 3-3 draw against them.
Watford was also able to produce a comeback win of their own when they beat the Wolves in the semi-final as they moved on to the final of last season’s competition.