Walter Mazzarri faces the biggest call of his embryonic reign on Saturday when he decides if now is the time to unleash Isaac Success at the expense of the out of sorts Odion Ighalo.
Success terrorised West Ham for 21 minutes at the Olympic Stadium, turned Eric Bailley inside out against Manchester United and then added a much-needed injection of pace, power and direction against Burnley in an otherwise turgid team display. His strength enables him to play as the target man while his blistering pace, which defenders always fear, lends itself perfectly to playing on the shoulder of the last man.
Success has claimed Ighalo’s place in the Nigeria squad, albeit through default as Ighalo is missing the next international for personal reasons, but now the calls for him to replace his countryman in the Watford line-up are becoming increasingly loud and difficult to ignore.
“He [Walter Mazzarri] knows what I can do, and anytime he wants me to play, I come up and give my best,” Success told the club website. “I’m improving all the time. I did what I can do [against Burnley], and now I’m hoping to get more time to show what I can do and to improve the team.”
Mazzarri has not been afraid to hook the big names, doing so with Deeney and Ighalo at West Ham. Deeney has spoken about how that has won the head coach respect in the dressing room. Now Mazzarri, if he is picking the team on form and not reputation, needs to leave one of his big guns out of the side and relegate Ighalo to the bench for the visit of Bournemouth on Saturday.
Last season’s top scorer has scored four times in his last 24 games, and one of those came against Gillingham. There is a feeling the eye-watering financial offers from China in successive summers and the bid from Manchester United in January turned his head. The bumper new five-year contract he received this summer in the wake of the interest could also have led to a degree of complacency, while Premier League defences could also have wised up to his threat.
Interestingly, there have also been calls in Nigeria for him to be dropped from the national team. He has scored only three times in 11 appearances against the likes of Swaziland (twice), Tanzania, Chad and Uganda.