Manchester United must again deal with 'new manager bounce'

Manchester United travel to Vicarage Road on Sunday to face the Premier League’s bottom club, Watford.

But it will not be a straightforward assignment, thanks in part to the ‘new manager bounce’ Nigel Pearson will hope to bring about.

And it isn’t the first time the Reds have come up against that challenge lately, which may crop up again very soon indeed.

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Will Watford show improvement?

The Hornets failed to get the boost they wanted from their first managerial sacking of the season, bringing Quique Sanchez Flores back to the club to replace Javi Gracia.


But there was evidence in their match at Anfield last weekend that Pearson has brought about instant improvement.

More composed finishing could well have earned Watford a result against the Premier League leaders, who only netted the crucial second goal to kill the game off in stoppage time.

United have a fantastic record against Watford, winning 16 of the last 17 games against them, stretching back to the 1980s.

But Pearson will be fired up to change that in his first home game in charge, and it looks like his new players are already responding to his message.

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Have United been unlucky?

United have already had to deal with the new manager bounce twice this month.

On December 4, Jose Mourinho suffered his first defeat as Tottenham manager at Old Trafford – showing United can deal with that renewed enthusiasm.

Last Sunday, Duncan Ferguson brought a fired-up Everton to Old Trafford in the Scot’s second game in caretaker charge and that desire earned them a 1-1 draw.

And United will face new Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on New Year’s Day, making it four new faces they’ve had to deal with within the space of a month.

Is that unlucky? Perhaps, as Everton, Watford and Arsenal would all look more inviting fixtures with their old bosses in charge.

United dealt with the bounce against Mourinho, raising their own game to get one over on their old boss.

They must take that energy into the away engagements with Watford and Arsenal or risk the new manager bounce bookending their festive period with poor results.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.