Dave Jones went through the wringer again last night despite a pre-match declaration of support from his Sheffield Wednesday chairman, Milan Mandaric. However, there are many who feel that could be a cause for even greater anxiety now for a manager with 12 defeats and only two wins in his last 16 matches, the last five of which had been lost.
Mandaric, no stranger to sackings, had tempered his backing and "stick together" rhetoric by pledging that "one way or another" he, as owner, would see the Owls safe.
Wednesday enjoyed the rarity of an early lead against Watford only to concede a soft equaliser, then miss a penalty before getting totally overwhelmed. After-wards Jones came out fighting and said: "Have I become a bad manager overnight? The number of managers at this club in the past tells you that chopping and changing is not the right thing." But he admitted: "It's as if the players did the opposite of what they were told. They can't hide. They've got to be big and brave."
Watford are challenging opposition for any side in any circumstances these days. Gianfranco Zola's team arrived on the back of a five-match unbeaten run. His decision to include Fernando Forestieri was well justified as the striker popped up with the equaliser after Watford had gifted Wednesday an early opener, Michail Antonio seizing on Marco Cassetti's ill-judged pass. Watford levelled from a throw-in that saw Forestieri find himself free in the area to beat Chris Kirkland.
The visitors had an escape on the half-hour when Mamady Sidibé played in Jay Bothroyd who was brought down from behind by Daniel Pudil as he appeared poised to shoot. Manuel Almunia saved the weak spot-kick from Chris Lines and Watford then ran away with the game in the second half as Wednesday fell apart.
Kirkland was left helpless by non-existent marking at Mark Yeates' 67th-minute free-kick. Alexandre Geijo,at the far post, headed home. Substitute Troy Deeney then scored sweetly left-footed with his first touch seconds after leaving the bench and Yeates added a fourth with a 20-yard volley.
Zola said: "I'm delighted with that performance and we haven't reached our full potential yet.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Kirkland; Buxton (Johnson, 66), Gardner (Taylor, h-t), Llera, Helan; Antonio, Lines, Corry, McCabe (Semedo, 50); Bothroyd, Sidibé. Substitutes not used Bywater, O'Grady, Mayor, Jones.
Watford (5-3-2): Almunia; Cassetti, Hall, Hoban, Ekstrand, Pudil (Dickinson, 85); Chalobah, Hogg, Yeates (Murray, 89); Geijo, Forestieri(Deeney, 71) Substitutes not used Bonham, Vydra, Smith, Battocchio.
Referee T Bates (Staffordshire).