(Reuters) - Watford manager Nigel Pearson has galvanised the club since he took charge in December and has transformed the Premier League side into an efficient counter-attacking team, Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers said on Thursday.
Watford, who host Rodgers’s Leicester side on Saturday, had only one win and were at the bottom of the standings when Pearson was appointed.
They then embarked on a six-match unbeaten run to climb out of the relegation zone. The club currently sit 17th in the standings.
Pearson managed Leicester in two different stints during his career and Rodgers said people at the club had “nothing but respect” for their former manager.
“He’s held in high regard here and the players who worked with him for long periods have respect for the work he’s done,” Rodgers said as his side prepare for their first game of the restarted season.
“He’s galvanised Watford... He’s got them organised and playing to their maximum with excellent results. We go there knowing it’s going to be a tough game but we’ll impose our way.
“They play well on the counter-attack, they’ve got a lot of experience in the squad... The 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium earlier this season was a tough game.”
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, who is one goal shy of 100 Premier League goals, will be making his 300th appearance for the club on Saturday.
Vardy, 33, leads the golden boot race with 19 league goals and Rodgers said his was a “phenomenal” story considering he was a late bloomer in the game.
“His first goal in the competitive game at the top level was only a few years ago,” Rodgers said. “It shows the talent and spirit and drive he has.
“No doubt he’ll get to that (100-goal) mark and he’ll go on. He’s in great shape - he’s super fit, super fast and he’s enjoying every minute. He’ll get back to the level he was at eventually.”
Rodgers also said he would “100%” support any player who refused to play due to the fear of contracting the novel coronavirus. All league matches are being played behind closed doors to reduce any risk.
“The players have felt the confidence here from the work the club has done to provide a safe environment,” he said. “But if they had any doubts... It’s not even a debate, they wouldn’t have to play.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis