After a dismal start to the season, Watford fans have been given a reason to be hopeful about watching their club again.

That reason is head coach Nigel Pearson, who has transformed a struggling side destined for relegation into a slick, well-oiled machine, who are difficult to break down in defence, yet simultaneously fearless and headstrong in attack.

The Hornets had scored just seven league goals before Pearson arrived, a tally they have surpassed in their last four matches on their way to collecting 10 points from a possible 12 in a difficult run of fixtures, during which they beat giants of the game Manchester United and a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who have already beaten last season's champions Manchester City twice during the current campaign and once again look destined to push for European football.

Undeterred, Watford have gone toe-to-toe with those opponents and come out on top, while comfortably seeing off Aston Villa and snatching a point against Sheffield United as well.

Even the most optimistic Watford supporter would have struggled to predict the seismic shift in momentum that followed Pearson into Vicarage Road, a ground that is fast transforming into the proverbial fortress, after spending the first few months of the season as a good will centre that handed out points to all who visited.

Nevertheless, the Hornets have hauled themselves up to within one win of climbing out of the relegation zone, where they had been nine points adrift just weeks before, and the players are all united in their belief that the new coach's direct approach and high standards are the prime reason for the upturn in fortunes.

After the Wolves win, goalkeeper Ben Foster suggested that the players needed a coach that demanded more of them and believes that an English boss who commands both fear and respect is exactly the type of person they needed to steady the ship.

"We've been crying out for an English manager for quite some time now," said Foster.

"We knew we'd got the players, we saw it last season, we just needed somebody to basically stick a rocket up us and that's all it is. Simple as that.

"You need somebody who will demand that just the minimum is working hard and getting stuck in. If you look at the last four or five games we've played, the fight, the determination, the never giving up, the constantly everybody tracking back, the work rate, all of that, that's what's been missing for the best part of nine months.

"There's a bit of both [fear and respect]. You need to almost fear your manager a little bit almost in the way you'd fear somebody like Alex Ferguson, someone like that because it keeps you on your toes. The very first game at Liverpool, I saw him [Pearson] stick a rocket up somebody like you wouldn't believe at half time. We were doing really well at Liverpool, 1-0 down but playing really well, in the game, creating chances and he's absolutely going after people and everybody was like, 'I can't let my standards slip here' and that's it."

While Pearson's impact on the field hints at big changes behind the scenes, the players suggest that things have not altered a great deal at the training ground.

However, they believe that what they are benefiting from is Pearson's forthright approach and the way he has simplified messages, to give them a greater understanding of their role on the pitch.

Midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure claims it is this establishing of the basics that has helped him and others rediscover the talents that they seemed to have lost at the beginning of the season.

"He came with the basics," said Doucoure.

"He just does the basic things that I would like to recover the level I had before. I think all the team as well want to recover their quality and when the best players recover the quality you can see on the pitch we are a better team. With Nigel we have a very good relationship, he's a very good manager, a great guy, he's very honest and everyone loves him, that's why I think we've had good results so far.

"He's a very English manager, he's very straight with people, when he doesn't like something, he will tell you straight away. We love that, as a player, you want to know what's wrong and what's right. When it's good he says to you as well, I think everyone loves that."

That simplicity was also spoken of by defender Christian Kabasele, who explained that Pearson's methodology is equally as uncomplicated.

"His words are quite simple: believe, fight and show every time 200 per cent of commitment to overturn the situation," said the Belgian.

"That's what we showed the last couple of weeks and slowly, slowly we're going to take care of some points to get out. When you start to win the games, you think more positively as well, so it's a lot of little details that means we can look up at the league."

Despite the huge shift in fortunes at Vicarage Road, the players insist they are not getting a head of themselves just yet.

As it stands, they are still in the relegation zone and they know there is more hard work to endure before they can begin celebrating.

They are however allowing themselves to be slightly more optimistic, with their fate firmly back in their own hands.

"It's incredible," said Foster.

"I think everybody now will look over their shoulders and think, 'oh my god.' It's an absolute dog fight now. Everybody that's in it, there's probably five, six or seven teams now who are in it. We can't get bogged down thinking of what other teams are doing. We just have to keep winning our games, that's all we can do. We don't need to do anything different to what we've already been doing. Probably try and keep 11 men on the pitch, that would be nice, but we keep on going the way we're going."