So, since Pearson and Shakespeare (and I do think we should consider them as a pair) have arrived at the club, I think we can safely say that we have witnessed a revitalisation of Watford FC. We’re actually winning games - and because of that, we’ve felt something that many had forgotten the feeling of... hope.

But what exactly has changed?

In my opinion, the most startling change Pearson made from day one is that, in a midfield three, Doucoure plays as the most advanced, leaving Capoue and Hughes as the more deep lying, defensive midfielders.

The move to play Doucoure ahead of Capoue and Hughes is peculiar, as Doucoure has always previously functioned as Watford’s midfield engine - the box-to-box man who collects the ball from deep between the centre halves, and drives us forward either himself or by making a forward pass. He was incredibly effective in that role.

By contrast, Hughes has always been deployed in a more attacking, creative role - usually out of position on the wing, but occasionally as CAM.

However, despite nobody particularly calling for this change, it actually makes perfect sense. For years, Hughes has been our ‘battler’ in midfield; he isn’t very quick, and he’s not the most talented player in the squad either - but he’s the one that harries and harasses the opposition.

Now that he’s been put alongside Capoue, his role looks quite similar to the one Jonathan Hogg used to perform - the nippy, irritating terrier that won’t leave opposition midfielders alone.

Doucoure moving further forward is even more interesting. I honestly do not believe Doucoure is better in this new role than in a defensive midfield role. I still believe Doucoure is at his best as a box-to-box engine.

However, something I regularly noticed this and last season is that Watford look far more dangerous when Doucoure is personally involved in the attack.

If Deeney is the only target in the box, peppering the box with crosses is not a scoring formula. Deulofeu, Pereyra, Hughes, Capoue - they all tend to hover on the edge of the box when they join attacks. Doucoure is our only midfielder that regularly runs deep into the box, and has actually scored a few headers for us.

In a sense, Doucoure’s best position has been ‘sacrificed’ for the good of the rest of the team in attack. A gambit – like sacrificing your queen for positional strength in a game of chess. A truly excellent spot by Pearson and Shakespeare there.

Other than the ‘Doucoure gambit’, the other changes Pearson and Shakespeare have made are pretty much common sense.

We now have two quick wingers, one technically gifted (Deulofeu), and the other very direct (Sarr).

In recent weeks it has become increasingly obvious how important Kabasele is to our solidity in defence.

We have lost all 8 games we have played without him, conceding 24 goals.

With him, we have only conceded 9 goals in 12 games.

As fans, we have definitely noticed a positive change under Pearson.

And to an extent the team makes their own luck by being hard working, taking a chance, chasing down lost causes, etc.

However, we do need to keep a bit of perspective here: we have relied on two absolutely world class saves from our goalkeeper at critical junctures.

We also enjoyed the fruits of a terrible goalkeeping error to break the deadlock vs Manchester United when we really didn’t create that much up to that point. We were due some luck - and teams tend to enjoy more luck, with more players hitting patches of good form, when the belief and confidence is there.

Pearson and Shakespeare have most definitely made an impact, on the pitch and off, through tactics and through motivation. But all the same, it must be recognised that a large part of our recent success, as compared to our prior misery, has to be attributed to things that are, at least partially, out of our control.

Say what you want about the style of play under Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores, but we were in a false position. We still are.

Save a couple of dreadful matches, for much of this season the results have not fairly reflected our performances, and both previous head coaches had precious little of that most important quality: luck.

The new leadership, by contrast, seem to have enjoyed a healthy dollop of luck already. About as much as we’ve had for the entire rest of the season so far, compressed into three games. We can hope it continues. We cannot rely on it.

What we can take for granted, however, is that the last few games have injected a fresh sense of self-belief into the squad, and given the team a bit of winning momentum.

We cannot waste it.

Ethan Knightley

By email