Watford, who change head coaches more often than most teams change their kit, could have found a keeper in Walter Mazzarri, according to their sporting director.
Mazzarri became the club’s eighth head coach in four years of the Pozzo family’s ownership when he replaced Quique Sanchez Flores in the summer. He managed to do what none of his seven predecessors managed to do and land a contract for more than two years and bring a entourage of support staff with him too. After a tricky start, Mazzarri has justified his demands, navigating Watford up to eighth in the table and masterminding wins over Manchester United the champions Leicester.
“We are very happy with Mazzarri,” sporting director Luke Dowling is reported as telling Calciomercato at yesterday’s Wyscout forum at Stamford Bridge. “He’s a very good tactician, the players like him a lot. We’re very hard to beat this season. He has a three-year-deal. He could remain longer.”
Dowling, it should be remembered, said in March that “we obviously want to keep him [Quique]” and we all know how that turned out. It’s also worth nothing that Watford, with Gino Pozzo and Scott Duxbury at the helm, don’t even contemplate extending the length of a coach’s contract until at least the final year. Neither have spoken publicly about life under Mazzarri so far but, privately, the two men running the club must be delighted. Valon Behrami certainly is.
“When I heard he was going to come I was happy, of course, because we had a good year together at Napoli and I know what he wants,” said Behrami who, it’s fair to say, didn’t see eye to eye with the previous head coach. “But I also know with him you have to work extremely hard, even if you have been with him before, it doesn’t matter to him. He wants a lot from the players, but it was a great feeling because I know exactly what he is expecting from his team.”
The one area Mazzarri needs to get a grip of is the discipline. Watford have received a league high 33 yellow cards, including nine for dissent, and racked up 184 fouls, 24 of which came in Sunday’s defeat to Stoke. Behrami is one of the chief culprits, and he’s facing a one-game suspension after picking up five yellows. Mazzarri needs to crack the same whip he clearly used at Napoli.
“He was very, very hard with me, but was for my best and we had an amazing experience,” continued Behrami in an interview with the matchday programme. “I was younger, I was stronger, I had more energy, and that season was the best. It was the best season I’ve had. We finished second in Serie A, we were fighting until almost the end with Juventus for the title, and we qualified for the Champions League.
“He is tactically very strong, and he has always got a solution every time”
“He cares about every detail. Maybe sometimes it can feel like he’s us telling the same things, but it’s because he wants his team to perform in a certain way and take responsibility. He is tactically very strong, and he has always got a solution every time. I don’t want to be a manager in the future. but if I did and there was one coach whose style I could follow, it would be him.”