By Kevin Affleck
Nigel Pearson is fully prepared for the various twists and turns in the battle at the bottom and feels the true measure of his side is how they bounce back from disappointment.
The Hornets picked up one point from a game against Tottenham Hotspur where they could, on another day, have collected all three. They lost to Aston Villa to a goal with the last kick of the game and then bowed out of the FA Cup in extra-time at Tranmere.
But Pearson has not sensed a drop in mood around the place and detects a resolve to string together another series of results to haul the team away from danger.
“All I can do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is to try and sense how we are and adjust training and how we conduct ourselves around the place accordingly,” said the Head Coach.
“After a couple of difficult results, the players have been excellent. That is a decent indicator, but we've got to back it up with a good performance at home.”
Pearson, 56, has impressed with his even-keel nature. He was not bouncing off the ceiling after a run of four wins in five games but, conversely, he wasn't on the floor after a crushing defeat at Villa Park. He is not deviating “too far away” from the one-game-at-a-time mentality.
“It's obvious that has to be the case,” he said. “There is no point verbalising that (how many points we need) now. It's fluid, it changes and every year it's slightly different. There will be, I think, seven sides you could speculate will be involved in it [the relegation battle]. It will depend how we do and other teams do and that can change.
“Other sides will look at it slightly nervously and have the same sort of mentality as I do, which is to concentrate on your own games. I'm wasting my time on what others think at other clubs. My only concern is us and how we go about it. As the season progresses there may be scope to change that somewhat, but our players have to make sure they take care of our performance.
“We have to make sure our own performance gives us the best chance of winning that game. You can't wait until the latter stages to put a run together. We have had a reasonable run of results that has put us back in contention, but the situation we find ourselves in means there is still an awful lot of work to be done.”
Home form is going to be imperative, particularly in April with three games at Vicarage Road, and the Hornets can go into Saturday's game with Everton with a certain degree of confidence having strung together a five-match unbeaten run on their own patch, including a run of three wins in their last four.
That, says Pearson, is the upshot of a consistent level of performance, which is why he is not overly nervous going into Saturday's game with Everton as he knows the hard work and preparation will have been done.
“Every game is vitally important, but to put too much emphasis on any one game builds unnecessary pressure,” he said.
“My mantra, in terms of what I'm looking for, is to get as close to maximum as possible in every game. If we do that, there is a good chance of winning and that's what it's about. The most important thing, first and foremost, is to make sure we get the performance right. If we get that as close to perfect as possible, we've got a great chance of winning games. That's how it has to be.
“When you have one or two setbacks, you have to make sure you are very even with your mood and you are able to prepare and look at games in the same way. We've had a decent run of games and had a couple of setbacks recently but, generally speaking, I am very pleased with the application of the players.
“We have to recognise we have a long way to go. There are a number of teams involved in the relegation battle and we have to make sure we take care of ourselves and not worry about what others are doing.”