Pearson: “We Must Play With That Intensity Every Game”
Despite disappointment at falling just short in his first game in charge, Nigel Pearson took real encouragement from the application and courage shown by his players in today’s 2-0 defeat at league leaders Liverpool.
“We knew it’d be one hell of a tough game,” said the Head Coach, who’d seen Watford fail to convert three or four chances of real promise against a team who have now won 16 of their 17 league games this term.
“We were aware it was going to be a case of risk and reward because you have to be disciplined when you come here and with a very strong team ethic, but I thought we also made life difficult for Liverpool and we created some unbelievable goalscoring situations.
“We were unable to convert them today and it’s of scant reward that we leave here with nothing for our efforts in terms of points, but I was very pleased with the collective work ethic today and that’s hopefully a shift in what we’ve looked like at times this season.
“We’ve got to play with that intensity in every game. If we do that there’s a real possibility of turning the corner and building some momentum, but we have to make it happen ourselves. Liverpool are an excellent side. They’re a well-oiled machine with incredible players so when you look at it in those terms, that is quite a good way to measure our performance today.”
Abdoulaye Doucouré and Ismaïla Sarr will certainly feel they should have done better when faced with excellent opportunities in front of goal, but Pearson said it came as no surprise that the Hornets created a healthy number of chances against last season’s Champions League winners.
“I’m not surprised when I bear in mind the talented players we’ve got available to us,” he said. “If I was sitting here and we’d been beaten 2-0 and soaked up pressure for 95 minutes and not created a chance, I’d be feeling a bit worse for wear.
“I’m also realistic. They’ve had a goal disallowed with VAR and they’ve had some good opportunities, but certainly in the first half we had the best opportunities.
“The [first] goal and their other best chance [in the first half] came from our set plays and that’s something we’ve talked about, but if the players are wondering what we have to do to break this cycle of disappointment, my answer is to do what we’ve done today every day.”
Defeat leaves Watford with nine points on the board from 17 games, but Pearson is sure his side can climb out of the bottom three if they continue to build on the improvements already evident during his first week at the helm.
“We played with lots of conviction today. Yes, there are disappointed players in that dressing room, but I also sense a togetherness which is going to be important.
“We have to continue to build a collective identity. I spoke before about having a buy-in from everybody and it’s absolutely required for us to find a way of getting out of the situation we’re in.
“It’s doable – that’s the other message. We are capable of doing it but we’ve got to start making it happen.”