Walter Mazzarri has caused some chortling of late when he has claimed his side deserved at least a point from a succession of matches. He did it against Stoke, West Brom and Manchester City. Either Watford have been the unluckiest team in the league, the overworked translator is telling porkies or the intense Italian has been watching a different game.
Yesterday, and for what felt like the first the time in his brief tenure, he laid the blame at the door of the players, feeling Watford probably got what they deserved when you aren’t decisive in either penalty box.
“I am very angry,” he told the BBC. “We did everything ourselves, the positives and the negatives. We missed many chances in the first half and then we gave them their goal very easily. We are making mistakes that are our fault. We made mistakes when we should have scored but didn’t. I spoke with the guys, they know what they did and we will try to sort it out. I look more at the performances but I’m slightly concerned at the way we played.”
You aren’t the only one, Walter.
Watford have lost five of the last seven, including four on the bounce away from home and one against the side who started the weekend propping up the rest. Watford are seven points worse off than they were at the same stage of last season and there is a swing of minus 13 in the goal difference. Worryingly, the goals have also dried up for the front two. Odion Ighalo has one league goal in 1,065 minutes while you have to go back to October’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth for the last time Troy Deeney bulged the net.
“We cannot miss all those chances we created,” said Mazzarri. “We know that in the Premier League if you miss these chances you get punished. This is football and this is what happened today.”
There has been a lot of talk about “those chances” but how many were there in the first, really? It wasn’t as if Watford carved Sunderland open time after time. The sweetly-struck volley was fashioned out of nothing by Nordin Amrabat while the near-post cross by Jose Holebas looked, on first viewing, like a chance for Ighalo but it was deflected by Donald Love and rolled across the face of goal for a corner. The big opportunity came when, somehow, Miguel Britos nodded wide a cross from Jose Holebas. It seemed easier for the Uruguayan to score than miss.
“We finished the half 0-0 and we deserved to be up,” Valon Behrami told the club website. “We need to work harder and be more clinical in the last 20 metres. You pay in the Premier League if you create so many chances and not score.”
Sights of goal were thin on the ground in the second period. Deeney stooped to send a header wide; Ighalo saw a volley saved by the impressive Jordan Pickford while Daryl Janmaat let fly with his right foot. Sunderland, by and large, kept Watford at arm’s length and ground out the 1-0 win they set their stall out for. Of concern was the space Jermain Defoe was afforded to tee up the only goal of the game, the England striker pulling into the pocket of space that can be found when you play three at the back.
“We had control of the game from start to the the finish and from our own mistake we conceded a goal,” said Younes Kaboul in an interview with the club website. “But that’s football – you have to take your chances. At half time we said we needed to keep going in this way but the opposite happened. We are, of course, very disappointed and we need to train very hard this week. We should have won this game today. They parked the bus at the back [after they scored] and it was very difficult for us to score. We kept going and we didn’t give up.”
No, they didn’t throw the towel in but this group do seem to be losing a tiny bit of faith.