Chalobah and Dele-Bashiru Can Be Watford’s Stars
Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Dele-Bashiru could be the team’s best players for the foreseeable future. The young duo has seen some action following the team’s disappointing draw with Tranmere and has shown some promising outputs.
Watford head coach Nigel Pearson opted to rest his first-team players and has opted to send in a squad that he rarely played with since he began to lead the team. That seemed to be regrettable at first, but his squad showed heart and had put up a fight against the Rovers.
Yes, the team nearly came away with a 3-0 win when they managed to put up a glorious first half, but that was short-lived as the Rovers stormed back in the second half to come up with a tie and eventually forced to end the match in a draw.
Pearson obviously made the right call here. He avoided further injuries to his first-team players - as he already has a lot of players in the recovery block - by pulling out a young squad to give them a taste of intense action that could prove to be useful for the team.
‘The Premier League is our priority and I have no qualms about it’, Pearson explained in an interview. ‘It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad and to look after what we need to do for the Premier League – it’s as simple as that and we can’t afford not to’.
‘Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority. If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available (then it could be), but we don’t and at the minute we’ve got a quite a lengthy injury list’, Pearson continued. ‘We can’t afford as a football club to put ourselves into a situation where we go into the league programme with even fewer players available. I’ve got to make decisions based on what’s right for our season’.
True enough, it allowed his young players to step up in the battle and play against an experienced foe in the Tranmere Rovers. The team did well as they were almost able to come up with a win in the game.
‘We had to try and find answers to questions we weren’t necessarily expecting. I would have expected us to see it through’, said Pearson. ‘But when you have an injury at half-time and then two players come off because they’ve got cramp, it just shows you the situation that we find ourselves in’.
Chalobah had a goal in the game before being pulled out by Pearson due to a groin injury at halftime. He was optimistic with the team’s approach and is definitely energized by the way they played compared to months prior to Pearson’s takeover.
‘If you look back a few months ago, we are in a completely different situation now’, said Chalobah. ‘We've now got a bit of momentum and we have to keep going. It's a draw – it wasn't a defeat, even though it feels like one to us personally and maybe to the fans – and now we've got a chance to put it right at their place’.
Pearson was disappointed in the team’s performance to end the game. He was, however, keen on letting it pass and pointed his team instead to learn from their mistakes and move on to their next game.
‘What he said was plain and simple’, said Chalobah. ‘First that we need to be disappointed with ourselves that we let a 3-0 lead slip, but we are still in the competition and have a chance to put things right. It's a learning curve for the young lads... but it's not the end of the world. We are still in the competition and get a second chance and you don't (usually) get that’.
Likewise, Dele-Bashiru was also sensational that night. He was the first to draw first blood when he sank that goal in the 12th minute that sparked the scoring momentum for the Hornets. He was willing to let all the lessons sink in from that game.
‘It was a good feeling to get my first goal as I've been working hard in training and it was exciting to show what I can do’, said the 20-year-old said. ‘But the result wasn't what we wanted. We kind of lost our organisation in the second half’.
‘In the first half it went well, we had possession of the ball but they changed formation in the second half’, he explained. ‘They pressed us high up and we were forced to kick it long at times and give them the ball. We could have dealt with the pressure better and created more options for each other on the ball’.
It was his first minutes in any game with the Hornets since the team’s Carabao Cup win against Coventry back in August 2019.
‘It was tough, being my first 90 minutes. Towards the end I was struggling a bit but it was a great feeling (to play and score). The crowd were very vocal, very supportive and it was just good to make them proud and show them what I can do’, Dele-Bashiru added. ‘Mapps was giving me a lot of advice, telling me to stay switched on and not to lose concentration. I then had to (do the same and) help Callum (Whelan) when he came on. The older players gave lots of support’.
Dele-Bashiru was impressed with Pearson’s way of leading the team. The latter was responsible for the Hornets’ sudden change of pace to end 2019.
‘He's just a good guy. He motivates all the players, he tells us our chance will come and that you have to take it when it does’, Dele-Bashiru said of the head coach. ‘He demands a lot from everyone. I'll keep working hard in training and show that I'm ready to play’.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores