Watford boss Nigel Pearson says players have gone from being actors performing live on stage to stars in a recorded TV sitcom as they get to grips with the “sterile environment” of playing in empty stadiums.
Football has been played without fans since its return last month as social distancing guidelines currently restrict mass gatherings.
It had been thought some players could thrive without the added pressure of a crowd - particularly those at the bottom of the Premier League - but Pearson believes the lack of fans is challenging for players.
“We are asking people to work in a way which is very alien to us, but still give the levels of performances that everybody expects,” he said.
“I suppose the only analogy I could give you would be actors who enjoy acting live on stage, compared to the sterile environment of working on a TV sitcom in front of a camera but nobody is there.
“Our players aren’t used to not performing in front of the fans and the emotional attachment and the noise, cheers and boos and everything else.
“It is very easy to sit there and be critical, but I also understand the difficulties.
"I think the players have embraced the challenge very positively and will all continue to work together to achieve what we are setting out to do. It won’t be easy, but that’s the plan.”
Watford take on Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on Saturday and can move six points clear of the drop with a win.