Gary Bowyer was correct in stating that his Blackburn Rovers side have their destiny in their own hands but it speaks volumes of the club's demise that their goal is one of survival. Winning a game in hand away to Millwall on Tuesday would leave Rovers needing only one point from two remaining matches but success at the New Den is a big if: Blackburn have had more managers than their three away league wins this season.
One of those wins had already been registered when Steve Kean was sacked in September, with the club third in the division. Henning Berg took the reins in sixth place and they had fallen to 15th when the Norwegian was dispensed with 57 days later. Bowyer's two stints as caretaker manager sandwiched Michael Appleton's tenure, which amounted to 67 days and a third of Blackburn's points. With his side now 20th, and two points clear of second-from-bottom Barnsley, Bowyer attempted to project a reassuring calmness but it could be mistaken for world-weariness.
"It was probably a big game too many. We've got to regroup quickly, we've remained positive and calm throughout and that's exactly the message we've said to them again," Bowyer said. "We've always known we had a game in hand, we always said it might come to goal difference. We've just got to go game by game again but at 0-0 I couldn't see that coming in the second half."
Bowyer had urged Blackburn to "play their own style" and to "go there and be on the front foot, be aggressive" at Vicarage Road, but instead they went from initially tentative to wretched, and when Watford clicked into gear after the break they resorted first to petty fouls and then imploded, with Leon Best dismissed in the dying moments for an alleged butt on Marco Cassetti.
Fernando Forestieri played the lead role in softening up the visitors, setting up the first three goals. The 23-year-old Argentina-born Italian was one of a cabal of players loaned to Watford by their sister club Udinese and was schooled at Boca Juniors, where he was likened to Lionel Messi. In January Watford's manager Gianfranco Zola made the move permanent.
Zola believes Forestieri can establish himself as a major force after a peripatetic early career that has already taken in 10 clubs.
"I always knew he had good qualities in one-on-one situations but this is a passing team and he needs to learn when to release the ball," said the Watford manager. "If he holds onto it every time for 30 or 40 seconds then he won't be effective. But I think he can be a terrific player."
Forestieri is being taught English by Manuel Almunia, and the Watford goalkeeper acts as translator. Almunia chuckled when Forestieri talked of coming to terms with English defending: "This boy loves confrontation," said the Spaniard.
Forestieri explained: "It was hard at the beginning but now I am enjoying the battle. Now I don't want to leave. The fact that my manager played in the same position as me, helps so much. Gianfranco Zola has mythical status in Italy. He's a hero to me."
Man of the match: Fernando Forestieri (Watford)