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Feb 17, 2020, 6:09:00 AM

Pearson Speaks Up On Andre Gray’s Value

Despite not having enough playing time to showcase his talent, Watford boss Nigel Pearson is making a strong claim that Andre Gray has a lot in store for the team. The striker is in Pearson’s lineup as a substitute.

Andre Gray rose to prominence after a breakthrough stint with Luton Town, where he tallied 57 goals in 111 matches. Gray has also played for Brentford and Burnley before moving to Watford.

He joined the team back in 2017 on a five-year contract. He has scored nine goals in the previous season alone while playing 34 matches. Gray has been in Leeds United’s radar for some time during the January transfer window.

The Hornets kept him, and that means that he will fight for his spot in the squad. Pearson shared his interest in the 28-year-old.

‘I like him a lot. He's a player who I really value having around the place. It's difficult when you play 4-3-3 and you only play with one central striker and we've got a number of central strikers at the club now becoming available’, said Pearson. ‘Sometimes opportunities are limited. What I will say about Andre is he's a really popular player amongst the squad, which I always think is a very valuable quality. If his peers like him, then I think that tells you something about the person’.

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Gray can be a reliable back up to the team’s current strikers. Hornets captain Troy Deeney was more of a forward than a striker, but having Gray allows Pearson to shake his lineup and turn his formations in a much more wider range of defence in exchange of offensive options.

‘Like most strikers when you have limited opportunities, it means that you don't get to score goals and as strikers that's how they judge themselves, it makes life sometimes a little bit difficult’, Pearson said of Gray, who could be seeing more minutes in their upcoming match with Manchester United. ‘Having said all of that, I believe that he can still have a really positive impact for us this season and because of that, he's a player that I'm very pleased to have’.

Watford has been battling hard in the second half of the season so far. It has been a wild ride for the Hornets as they have been in and out of the relegation for a while now, and that has been the main problem for them - consistency.

Pearson needs to figure out to put his team back into their consistent pace. The team has been on a slump going into February, but the break should come in handy for them, giving enough time to recover from the tough stretch since December 2019.

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Following the loss at Aston Villa back in January, Pearson knows that the team has to stop the bleeding, and that means finding a way to resolve their offensive problems in the season.

‘In all honesty, you're gonna have situations where things don't quite work for you, but you've got to deal with it’, said Pearson. ‘I can't come in front of you and talk about “when we have to deal with setbacks we'll have a deal with it” and all of a sudden something doesn't go our way and we lose perspective. That's not the case’.

It has been a tough season for Watford. Early in the season, the team was struggling under former boss Quique Sanchez Flores, and they only managed to claim a single win this season. Pearson then came in like a saviour and somehow turned the tables for the team.

‘It's just a situation that you have to face up, deal with it and move on because now that's gone. Now it's about what happens. It's not really too much about what's happened before, it's about living and working in the present’, said Pearson. ‘It's about affecting what you can now affect. We can't affect the past and because of that I think it's really important that we move on and any lessons that we need to learn from the games, we learn and look forward to the next challenge’.

Read on Pearson’s escape plan for the Hornets

Pearson is clearly determined to help the team complete its comeback. His morals and perspective towards the season have helped them a lot in winning games, but he will have to do better this time with just a few matches left for them this season.

‘I think it’s more important to try to make positive decisions when we’ve had a setback in a game. I would rather people be questioning making positive decisions rather than being negative because I think this football club has had too much of that this season’, said Pearson after the team’s loss against Everton earlier in the month.

‘I’ve said already the important thing is we have to look after our own performances and our own results, and this will continue to be how we approach the season’, he added.

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Late pushes and ill-timed comebacks have been in Watford’s tactics, but that doesn’t seem to work out at this point in the season. They have to figure another way in utilising their gritty offence.

‘I’m prepared for people going over the top when things are going well and likewise now, we’ve lost two Premier League games on the trot. We have to recover from this, it’s never an easy journey when you’re in a relegation battle’, said Pearson. ‘We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get back in contact. The players will deal with it, they’ll get on with it and they’ll have me nudging them and encouraging them still in the same way that I would do when we win’.

There’s no telling how would the Hornets fare in their match against Manchester United, but it seems that Andre Gray will see some playing time in the game. The only thing left for Gray to do is do his job and help his team win.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: PA