Walter Mazzarri insists the heated exchange between Jose Holebas and Etienne Capoue was a storm in a tea cup and that the episode was quickly forgotten about.
The Sky cameras focussed on Holebas at full-time at the Riverside, hoping to capture some celebratory shots from Watford’s match-winner. Instead, the cameras picked up a frank discussion between the pair, and both Younes Kaboul and then Troy Deeney trying to intervene. You would have thought, judging by the debate, that Watford had just lost and not picked up their second away win on the road.
We believe the argument spilt over from an innocuous incident just three minutes earlier when Holebas, in an advanced position down the left flank, tried to chip the ball between two Boro defenders instead of running the clock down by playing keep ball in the corner. Holebas felt his decision was justified as he won a free kick, for a handball by Calum Chambers, but Capoue disagreed. It was much ado about nothing, really.
“Holebas is a strange character but a very nice guy,” joked Valon Behrami on Sky Sports this week. “It’s fine, they are laughing after 20 minutes. They are very close together.”
Mazzarri couldn’t see what all the fuss was about and being the fierce competitor he is, he was pleased to see his players not content with a workmanlike away win.
‘They are very good friends,” said the head coach. “This is more the problem of the media than our problem. There hasn’t been any episode, nothing. They have cleared everything already. I like it a lot. It is something I said as soon I as I arrived in Watford that players need to be more motivated than me. The idea will be that during 95 minutes of the game, while respecting the rules [of the team and the game], that they need to give 110 per cent and be ready fighting for every ball, giving everything they have got. Capoue and Holebas play on the same side in training and are always talking to each other, always trying to improve what position they should be in. I am happy about this [exchange of words] as it means they want to improve.”
It turns out Mazzarri had one or two things to say at half-time, too,
“I went inside the dressing room and I said to them I wasn’t happy,” said the head coach. “I even took one or two players and told them face to face I was not happy and that they had to fight more.”