Walter Mazzarri came out fighting this evening, insisting his Watford team, who appear in freefall, are still on track to meet the objectives outlined by owner Gino Pozzo.
The Hornets have lost six of the last nine matches and have registered just one win in seven games yet the head coach laughed off suggestions he is under pressure at a club who have no qualms about stress-testing their model, claiming the aim was to always ensure Watford maintain their Premier League status. This, though, is a club that moved on a head coach who finished 13th, suggesting the bar has been set higher than Mazzarri realises or is letting on. Watford dropped one place to 13th on the back of a rout at home to Tottenham, and Mazzarri appears to be struggling to arrest the decline. They are heading one way, and fast, at this rate.
“The president and I have spoken and the first objective was to avoid relegation,” said Mazzarri. “If you look at the table, we are doing even better than this. We could have been where Crystal Palace are but we aren’t.”
True enough but Watford have lost any sort of momentum and look a team devoid of a plan and, in the absence of Isaac Success, lack any kind of inspiration.
“Before we had all the injuries, we were doing something extraordinary – more than the expectations. This is something we need to take into consideration.”
Mazzarri sounds increasingly like someone who is using injuries as an excuse, something to trot out and hide behind as soon as a result doesn’t go his way. Yes, the injuries are crippling but they are occurring all too frequently to be solely attributed to bad luck. Some believe the players didn’t get enough miles in their legs in pre-season as the head coach focussed almost exclusively on tactical shape. Quique Sanchez Flores benefited from having a near fully-fit squad last season but then he did have Richard Collinge running his medical department.
“I’m not interested in what happened last season,” snapped the head coach. “I know what Pozzo wants. I’ve been speaking with him, I know what his objectives are and I know what we have been talking about. Watford did very good [last season] and then started to lose some points. If we look at this year, we are still on line with our objective, which is to stay in the Premier League. If we want to compare this season and last season then the league is much better than it was last year. If you look who won the league last season, a team managed well by Ranieri, they are now fighting not to be relegated. Look at Liverpool last season and Liverpool this season. That says a lot. We can’t compare the league this year with the one last year.
“I’m not happy as we should have got more points and be even higher,” he added. “We are in line with what is the objective of this year. We did much better than expected at the beginning. If we get the injured players back, get over this negative moment, which every team can have, we can get back to where we were and even higher.”