Pearson: “We Are Going To Need Everybody”
By Kevin Affleck
Nigel Pearson will place the same demands on the players he picks for tonight's FA Cup tie, challenging them to seize their opportunity and finish off the job they started at Vicarage Road.
The Head Coach has made no secret of the fact he will make changes for the third-round replay at Prenton Park against Tranmere as it comes two days after an energy-sapping win at Bournemouth and four days before what is likely be a demanding game against Tottenham Hotspur.
The amount of rotation will become clear an hour before kick-off, but Pearson makes no apologies whatsoever for his approach as he was brought in with a remit to keep the club in the Premier League.
“The turnaround is not easy,” he said. “But that's the climate we are working in and I have to prioritise because our status in the Premier League is the priority. But the priority right now is the preparation for this game and we will endeavour to give the game the respect it deserves. I can't sit here and say it's the main priority as it's not.
“It's our next game, we want to win it and we had the opportunity to do that at home and we didn't see the job through. One of the benefits of that day is we learnt more about our players. It's unfortunate we were unable to finish the job off first time round. We give them credit because they showed a lot of spirit in the second half. It's an opportunity for both sides to progress and we are going to make sure the team out there is picked with the view to players getting pitch exposure. A number of players have been limited with game-time this season so it will be useful for them. Young players will also get an opportunity, so it's good for them, too.”
Pearson will not have any injured players back for the game with Tranmere and instead will rely largely on those who played in the first game at Vicarage Road that ended 3-3.
“We have a number of players unavailable,” he said. “It will be nice to get them back throughout this month and next month. That would be great. That will give us more depth. It's important to have as many available as possible. What is important is the players who do play utilise their opportunity to show what they are capable of. We are going to need everybody.”
That inclusive, all-for-one mentality has underpinned everything Pearson and Craig Shakespeare have done since they walked in just over a month ago. It is an approach that has reaped 13 points out of the last 15 and lifted the team out of the bottom three for the first time this season. But Pearson wants more, much more.
“As far as I'm concerned, we are doing okay,” he said. “We've had an upturn in results, in performances because of the commitment and application of the players. They have found ways of winning games. I'm part of it, Craig is a part of it and the rest of the staff are a part of it. There is a long way to go. We've got off to a reasonable start – it's caught us up to the pack, that's all it's done.
“We've got to show the intent and the desire and application in every single game otherwise the hard work in these first few weeks is in vain. I'm experienced enough to understand we have a difficult job ahead still, but I'm pleased with the squad of players we have – not just ability and chemistry, but their desire to try and change our fortunes. We've started to fulfil the potential we have. Now the challenge is to maintain that here on in.”