Nigel Pearson’s final match in charge of Watford was a 3-1 defeat by David Moyes’ West Ham on Friday

Nigel Pearson could have been a contender for Premier League manager of the year rather than being sacked by Watford, says West Ham’s David Moyes.

Pearson, 56, was sacked with fourth-bottom Watford three points clear of safety and two games left to play.

He won seven Premier League matches since taking over in December, but the Hornets made the decision after Friday’s loss at West Ham.

“I was amazed that Watford have done what they’ve done,” Moyes said.

“If Watford had stayed up – and I think they’ve still got a great chance of staying up – he could easily have been recommended for manager of the year, with the position they were in when he took over.”

Watford were bottom of the Premier League with just one win in 15 matches when Pearson was appointed on a deal until the end of the season.

Pearson won three of his opening four league matches before the Hornets moved out of the relegation zone in late February with a 3-0 win over champions-elect Liverpool.

Wins over Norwich City and Newcastle United earlier this month edged them closer to safety, with the club now needing victory against either Manchester City on Tuesday or at Arsenal on Sunday to guarantee a sixth straight season in the top-flight.

The Hornets will not even need that if Aston Villa and Bournemouth do not win in their remaining fixtures.

“I don’t know what else they expected,” added Moyes.

“He took over in a real difficult position, six points adrift at the time, and to get them to a position of safety, I find that really tough on him.”

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