Walter Mazzarri has defended the decision not to start any of the club’s new signings on Saturday, including Abdoulaye Doucoure who was not suspended according to the Football Association.
Doucoure was the headline name missing from yesterday’s 18 and he appeared to clear up his absence by posting on social media that he was suspended. However, the post was swiftly deleted as a glance at the list, produced by the game’s governing body in this country, of players serving suspension did not include the French midfielder who was on loan at Granada for the second half of last season.
It did, however, contain Paul Pogba, Manchester United’s returning midfielder who missed the opening weekend because he was serving a one-match for picking up a yellow card in both legs of the Coppa Italia final, showing the official list accounted for suspensions carried over from European leagues. Doucoure did pick up five yellow cards for Granada in the second half of last season, including one on the final day of the season.
But in England at least, a player is warned as to their future conduct if they receive a fifth caution after December 31 and have to reach ten cautions before a suspension is meted out.
Doucoure travelled with the squad to St Mary’s, suggesting he was a travelling reserve. Other players who were not selected, through injury or form, did not travel. The decision not to include Doucoure, who the club have high hopes for after bringing forward their summer plans to buy him to January, was a surprise, particularly as he has featured so prominently in pre-season.
“There are decisions,” said Mazzarri. “For me there are 18 players and I chose the players that, in my opinion, were ready for today. From Monday I will see everyone again and decide, it doesn’t mean the players that were here today will be the same next week, they can change.”
Watford made five signings this summer – six if you include Doucoure – but not one of them made the starting XI, with club-record defensive purchase Christian Kabasele, who cost £5.8m from Genk, not making the squad.
“It is the manager’s choice who plays,” said Adlene Guedioura. “We just prepare professionally for every game. No matter who starts we are a team, we play together and we want to win together. That is what the manager wants for everyone.”