Odion Ighalo has faith that Gino Pozzo has made the right call in opting to replace Quique Sanchez Flores with Walter Mazzarri.
Several pundits have criticised Watford’s hierarchy for parting company with the Spaniard, who guided Watford to 13th in the Premier League. Mazzarri will certainly have a tough act to follow once he is appointed as his successor. But Pozzo rolled the dice last summer in upgrading Slavisa Jokanovic with Sanchez Flores – and Ighalo is backing Pozzo, along with chief executive Scott Duxbury, to be vindicated when it comes to yet again opting to fix the roof when the sun is shining.
“Quique has done a good job for the team but the owner believed the job wasn’t enough,” Ighalo told the BBC. “I think he [Pozzo] knows best because since I’ve come to Watford I’ve played under five managers. I’m not surprised Quique is going because I know Gino, the owner, always gets it right. He’s a hard-working guy and I’ve known him for more than ten years now. He’s a businessman. He knows what he wants and always gets it right. So I believe he will get it right this time too.”
Ighalo knows better than most how Pozzo, and the Italian family, operate. The striker has spent the past eight years playing under all three of the family-owned clubs – Udinese, Granada and Watford – and has developed a strong relationship with Gino. Sanchez Flores wasn’t convinced by Ighalo at first, despite his rich vein of form in preseason, and he set out his stall to play Troy Deeney as the focal point with Jose Manuel Jurado operating in the space just behind. But Ighalo’s goal at Everton forced the plan to be tweaked and he flourished under Sanchez Flores up until February, emerging as one of the most-sought after strikers in Europe.
“I feel for Quique because he has done a great job taking the team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the team will be playing in the Premier League next season,” Ighalo said. “But whichever manager comes in I’m happy to stay because, like I say, I’ve played under five managers here and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
We profile Mazzarri in this week’s issue of WD Sport. Pick up a copy in all the usual places you’d expect to find a newspaper in and around Watford.