LONDON (Reuters) - Watford escaped the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season with a 3-0 win at Bournemouth on Sunday but manager Nigel Pearson, who has engineered a remarkable transformation since taking over, said the job is not done.
In the six games since Pearson arrived, when Watford were adrift at the bottom, he has taken 13 points, five more than predecessors Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores, both sacked this season, managed between them.
In that period only Liverpool and Manchester City have picked up more points.
Pearson has previous experience of survival battles, inspiring an incredible turnaround at Leicester City in 2014-15 when they were bottom at Christmas.
On that occasion Leicester were still bottom in March but won seven and drew one of their last nine games to escape the drop, only for Pearson, who took them up in 2013-14, to be sacked a few weeks later and replaced with Claudio Ranieri who took the Foxes to the title in the following season.
The speed of the Watford revival has been more spectacular as they had won only one of their first 17 league games and appeared to be hurtling towards relegation.
Pearson is not one to get carried away though even if goals by Abdoulaye Doucoure, Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra saw them climb into 17th place.
“There are so many games left I think it would be foolish to think that just because we have got out of the bottom three that the job is done,” Pearson said.
“It’s a great result but we have to keep our focus here on in. It’s not a season-changing result but it’s an important one, especially in the context of our own situation.
“There is an awful long way to go. I think what it does, it quantifies the work the players have put in over the last few games. But I’m not naive enough to think that we are anywhere near concluding what we set out to do.”
Pearson is only contracted to the end of the season but Watford’s fans who chanted his name on the south coast, appear in no doubt they have finally found the right man.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, having taken over in 2012, but his side’s dreadful slump has put him under the spotlight like never before. Against Watford his side were awful and were booed off the pitch at full-time.
Since beating Manchester United in early November, when Bournemouth were seventh, they have picked up four points from 11 games — the worst haul over that period - and have dropped to 19th.
Unless they stop the rot soon their hopes of a sixth successive top-flight season will vanish.
“On result never dictates your season but a group of results does and we are in a difficult moment,” Howe said.
Asked about his position, Howe told the BBC: “You’re always looking at whether you are doing well enough and whether ultimately you’re helping the team.
“That’s something I’ll have to reflect on.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar