Walter Mazzarri regularly says in his weekly press conferences how curious he is, which is not a surprise given he’s coaching a new group of players, at a new club at some stadiums he’s never heard of, let alone been to before, and getting to grips with a new language and a new culture. Mazzarri is as curious as Quique Sanchez Flores was amazed.
Mazzarri will be as curious tomorrow as he’s been so far in his embryonic reign more when he finds out, once and for all, if his side’s blip (and that’s being generous) at Burnley was a one-off or an unwelcome habit against less fashionable opposition at unwelcoming grounds. In short, he’ll find out by 3.30pm if his players fancy it as the nights start to draw in.
“It will be a very hard game, away from our home,” he said. “It will mainly be their fans … and we have to be focused, play our game, play well defensively and keep the game at Burnley in mind. We don’t want to repeat those mistakes.”
Not half. It will be a long afternoon if they do. Watford have shown they can do it when the sun is shining but can they roll up their sleeves on the road and show they are a team for all seasons?
“I am very curious to see if the Burnley game was an incident or not,” said Mazzarri. “An intelligent and professional player has to be ready.”
You couldn’t accuse Mazzarri of not being ready. In an excellent piece in the London Evening Standard this week, Mazzarri spoke about how he’s so busy preparing the side that he forgets to eat. He even sends voice messages to his assistant when brushing his teeth. It’s clear he was lined up long before Sanchez Flores was officially told he was not needed for a second season – and you can hardly blame the club’s decision-makers for that as they would have been accused of not having a succession plan had they not. Mazzarri spent the lead-up time doing his homework and due diligence.
“As soon as I signed, I went to scout the teams who came up,” said Mazzarri this week. Mazzarri signed after the season had finished so that would have been a tough ask. Anyhow, it’s clear he was doing his research long before he was officially unveiled on May 21, which is to be applauded. “I wanted to see how they played in the past. We send scouts to see their games and we study every team we play against. We have scouts on every team but not just the team for that weekend – teams months and months before. We have big archives of teams we play against. We are very, very well prepared. We know everything about the teams we are going to play against.”
It’s what we’ll find out about this Watford team tomorrow that is the most intriguing.