First Team 11/01/2020

Cathcart: “Everyone Is In It Together”

Craig Cathcart feels the team's ability to close a game out after having a man sent off has been central to the recent turnaround.

The Hornets played the final 33 minutes of the game with Aston Villa with 10 men yet ran out 3-0 winners and then played out the last 19 against Wolves a man short yet held on for an uplifting 2-1 win.

The defender said the belief those wins gave the squad stretched beyond the six points they picked up, demonstrating they are capable of rolling their sleeves up and able to find different ways to win games.

“We pulled through in both,” Cathcart said in an interview with Premier League Productions. “That shows the spirit is definitely there. We managed to get the job done and that gives us confidence that we can pull through when things don't go well. Everyone is in it together. We are all working defensively as a team and we showed that going down to 10 men.

“We had to dig in and put up a fight. Before we kept a few clean sheets, but the heads would drop when we conceded the first goal. If we do concede, we know we can score goals and work together to get back into the game. We are defending ready to release the lads in attack.”

The team are playing very much in the mould of their Head Coach Nigel Pearson: no-nonsense, full of spirit and plenty of character. It's an all-for-one approach that has yielded 10 points in four games.

“The Head Coach has come in and he's made an impact,” said Cathcart. “The training levels have gone up and the performances have gone up because of that that. The confidence is building every game and we are looking up the league rather than down. He's got experience of that [getting out of trouble] and he saw little things we needed to hear.

“He's getting the best out of us. He knows how to get the best out of certain players and we are working well as a team.  He goes and has little chats with players here and there. His door is always open and he's made that very clear. He's picked a few lads up who were down and that's been a key factor to the results changing.”

As a result, the team now head to the South Coast full of confidence, ready to take on a Bournemouth side one place and one point above the Hornets in the table.

“We try not to focus too much on the pressure of the game,” said the defender who has made 156 appearances for the club in two spells. “We want to focus on our performance and what we are going to do win the game. We know Bournemouth are a really good side and it's always pretty close [between us], even when we got promoted [together].

“It's always a difficult match there and it will be tough, but we are confident we can go there get the win. They've dipped a bit and we are on the rise. We are looking up the league now and we've dragged a few teams in. A few teams will be looking down getting worried.”

First Team 11/01/2020

Pearson: “We Need To Play As Close To Maximum As Possible”

By Kevin Affleck

Head Coach Nigel Pearson has been around long enough to appreciate the significance of Sunday's game with Bournemouth and what a win would mean, but he's not about to start hyping it up and creating unnecessary pressure.

Pearson has engineered a situation over the festive period that means a win at the Vitality Stadium would result in the Hornets leapfrogging their opponents and climbing out of the bottom three if results go their way. The psychological benefits of that would be obvious, but Pearson feels there is a process to all this and that it's about putting together a consistent set of results – not getting the team up for a one-off game.

"This is a big game but they are all big games," he said. "I'd love to win it and I don't want to lose it, for sure. To come away with three points will be a great result for us. It's a game where we need to make sure we play as close to maximum as possible. If we do that we've got a chance of a positive result.

"It's nothing different to any other game in as much as we are trying to get our own preparation right. That's first and foremost. We have to try and play with the same intensity we've had in recent Premier League games and take that into what will be a difficult and important game for both teams."

Bournemouth have only won one of their last 10 league matches but Pearson is not worried about what the Cherries or anyone else are doing. He wants to make sure his side get their own house in order.

"It's more about being realistic about the situation we are in," he said. "We don't get ahead of ourselves. We've done some good work and there is a long way to go. I don't try and think too much. I just try to set the standard and be a part of creating a feeling at the football club. The standards we work to remain high."

Pearson has worked as hard on the training field as he has on the culture around the place. He greets nearly everyone at the training ground every morning, has his lunch on a different table every day and makes sure everyone, from the staff in the canteen to the groundsmen, feels part of what he is trying to do.

"It's really important in any work place that there is an element of fairness and element of respect," he said. "I try and work with those values and make sure they are very high on the list. I believe you treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. It may be mundane and boring but it's very important stuff. It's about the human element and how you deal with people. Football doesn't sit outside of anything else – it's about trying to engage with people, being open and upfront and setting the framework for them."

Pearson, 56, admitted in a recent interview after a game that he had semi-retired after a 20-year managerial career, but he has got the bit back between his teeth. He wouldn't have taken any old job, though. This felt, he said, like a good fit.

"It's an emotional attachment with the job," he said. "I didn't have to overthink it. I've been asked a few times whether I still had the enthusiasm, the drive to continue to work. I've asked myself those sort of questions but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we were capable of getting out of the situation we are in. I can't ask people to be committed if I'm not committed myself. All these are very important to me. This club has got a strong identity and potential to rediscover what we are as a football club. I do feel attached to being a part of that."