First Team 1 month ago

Smart On Pearson: “There’s A Bit Of The Great GT About Him”

By Kevin Affleck

Allan Smart believes Nigel Pearson is exactly the right man for the Watford job after observing how thew Hornets Head Coach operated when doing his coaching qualifications.

Pearson, 56, was a tutor on the A License at Lilleshall in the early noughties when Smart did his badge alongside Brendan Rodgers. Smart was impressed with Pearson's knowledge, tactical acumen and his delivery and has followed his career closely ever since.

“He was approachable, warm, took sessions, offered opinion, had good knowledge and really stimulated debate,” he said. “He came across as a really decent bloke but he has that fiery side that you need as a manager. There is a bit of the great GT about him. Players won't be stepping out of line, that's for sure.”

Pearson issued a really powerful speech to the playing and training ground staff on Sunday morning and plans to extract every lost drop of talent and energy out of this squad, making it more than the sum of its individual parts.

“He'll want 100 per cent effort for starters,” said Smart. “Look at what Duncan Ferguson did at Everton on Saturday. He showed you what you can do with a team when they are at full tilt. Fans want to see players putting effort in, giving everything and putting your foot in. Nigel's teams are well organised, structured but they also have a bit of creativity about them.”

Smart just missed Pearson at Carlisle. He left to join Watford in the same summer of 1998 that Pearson took over, a season that culminated in goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scoring an injury-time equaliser to keep Carlisle in the Football League.

“I know that dressing room and they all spoke really well of him and the job he did there,” said Smart. “What he did there was against the odds.”

It's a familiar theme, really. Pearson was Bryan Robson's assistant when West Brom stayed up on the final day of 2004/05; he kept Southampton up in 2007/08, again on the final day, while Leicester won seven and drew one of their final nine games in 2014/15 to beat the drop.

“I feel the biggest thing he did was get those Leicester players off the floor from Play-Off Semi-Final defeats against Cardiff and Watford to then get them promoted,” said Smart. “I remember one of the players [Yann Kermorgant] tried to dink a penalty against Cardiff and then there was that Deeney goal against Watford, but he still managed to keep his dignity when he could have gone mad and eventually got them up. That must have been a big psychological task and he needed to show a lot of leadership then, which he has clearly got as Bryan Robson made him captain of his Middlesbrough team and you don't get a better reference than that.”

First Team 1 month ago

Carid: “I Am A Warrior”

By Kevin Affleck

Match-winning forward Andrea Carid feels her diet and improved levels of fitness has been a major factor behind her sparkling form this season.

The 26-year-old planted a diving header past the Plymouth goalkeeper ten minutes from time on Sunday to seal a thrilling 5-4 win for the Ladies in the game between third and first. She now has ten goals for the season and puts it down to the way she has looked after herself.

“When I came here [in June last year] I was in really good fitness,” she said. “I was 55kg, all my muscles were in in shape. One month later I lost everything because I didn't eat. I started to work at McDonald's and when you have to get up at 3.30am, you are not going to eat anything. My diet was bad. I spoke with a friend who is a nutritionist but I couldn't follow it. I gained a lot weight as I was used to training six days a week and then I was training just two.”

Things changed when she got a better routine and a better structure after landing a job at a school in February. She also buddied up with fitness coach Pablo Mandiola.

“I switched to a plant-based diet, I go to the gym before school and I feel much, much better,” she said. “Pablo was amazing with me. He was always, always pushing me. I was telling him I cannot do it but he always said I can and was always pushing me. When I think I cannot do something, I just remember Pablo. He pushed me the way I needed to be. He was not, ‘Ah, poor Andrea’. He just said, ‘Train more, train more’. I am so grateful to him. I am a fighter, I am a warrior and I am not afraid now because of him.”

Mandiola has since moved to a role with the first team on the back of his work with the Ladies while Carid goes from strength with a team who are top of the Southern Premier League. She is thriving in the environment created by Head Coach Clinton Lancaster.

“Watford is really good and we play the game the right way,” said Carid. “This year we have a really good team. The key is people want to work hard and that's the most important thing. We have lots of good players but we come here, work hard and do our best. The team can do a really good season if we carry on. If we keep working hard we can finish top, but working hard is the key. It doesn't matter if you are good or not good – you need to train and work.”

Read our full feature with Andrea Carid here, where she talks about arriving in Hertfordshire from Spain, playing in oversized boots and buying every piece of Watford FC merchandise she can get her hands on.