Chris Wilder has not been surprised at the instant impact Nigel Pearson has made since taking over at Watford.
Nottingham-born Pearson is synonymous with Sheffield Wednesday, having made 180 appearances for the Owls – many as captain – whereas Wilder is a supporter, manager of and former player for Sheffield United. Despite being two Premier League managers living in the same city, their paths have rarely crossed, but that is not to say Wilder is not full of respect for the former centre-back.
Ex-Leicester City and Hull City manager Pearson took over as manager of bottom-of-the-table Watford this month, the Hornets' third boss this season.
Pearson enjoyed his first win on Sunday, beating Manchester United 2-0, and takes the team to Bramall Lane on Boxing Day. They have instantly looked more motivated.
“I didn’t really come across Nigel because I never got picked for any of the derby games!” joked former full-back Wilder.
“Our paths don’t really cross. I haven’t had any big lengthy conversations with Nigel. But he was captain, a solid one, the skipper, in some heady days for Sheffield Wednesday, including when they won the League Cup (in 1991).
“Being an ex-Sheffield Wednesday captain and living in the area, he’ll definitely want to nail us and beat the old enemy.
“When a new manager comes in, you are always looking for that lift and Nigel has given them that. Nigel is honest and hard-working and I’m sure his team will mirror that.
“I don’t know, with just coming into the Premier League recently, if I really should be commenting but if you are asking for my opinion, then I think it’s a really sensible appointment.
“We would have been wary of Watford anyway but he’s known in these parts as a fantastic captain for Sheffield Wednesday and an excellent coach.
“Look at what he did at Leicester (who were bottom of the Premier League in 2014, but survived relegation) and who is to say he can’t do it again? He’s a knowledgeable guy and his organisation of the team is always spot on.”
Helping Pearson's cause has been the return to fitness of talismanic captain and centre-forward Troy Deeney, who did not appear during Quique Sanchez Flores's brief tenure. Deeney's penalty against Manchester United was his first goal since last season's FA Cup semi-final.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence, the upturn (under Pearson) and Troy coming back either,” said Wilder. “Look at the experience they have got, they were (FA) Cup finalists last year.
“In this division, momentum can change so quickly. They had momentum going forward last year.
“Watford, down there, played like an away side (during October's 0-0 draw) and played on the counter. They say eight men behind the ball and we couldn’t find that pass to open them up.
“(Under Pearson) Watford are a team that creates chances. They don’t create half-chances, at Anfield (Pearson's first game in the dugout) they created proper chances.”