What to expect from Mazzarri at Watford
Posted by Luke McKenzie | Published on July 14, 2016
When Watford announced that Quique Sanchez Flores would be leaving the club, there was a massive ‘Twitter meltdown’. Fans and journalists couldn’t believe that a man who guided a newly promoted club to a 13th place finish in the Premier League and a cup semi-final had lost his job. They assumed that ‘Oh Watford finished 13th and got to a semi-final, he must have done a good job’ without actually watching a game of football that Watford was involved with. Under Flores, It was boring ‘lump up to Deeney and Ighalo and see what they can do’ type of football, and if one of those two didn’t score, Watford would most likely lose the game. At least at the start of the season, Watford were winning games, but when you lose games and play negative football, it’s always going to be a recipe for disaster. A good 80% of Watford fans wanted Flores out because of his negative football and lack of tactical intelligence. The first 5 months of the relationship was rosy, Watford was as high as 7th in the Premier League BUT as soon as January came, Watford never looked the same, wrong team and subs week in week out and loyalty to players who were not cutting it kept their places in the team that we could all see needed change.
However, that’s only 50% of the reason why Sanchez Flores lost his job. The Pozzo’s pride themselves of buying little and selling for big amounts. Alexis Sanchez, Benatia, Cuadrado, Candreva, Roberto Pereyra are just some of the high-profile names that the Pozzo’s have signed for nothing and sold for big bucks. Flores didn’t fit the Pozzo mold, at all, Gino Pozzo brought Obbi Oulare and Steven Berghuis to Watford in the Summer transfer window and QSF did not play them, even when things were going awfully wrong, Flores refused to switch it up and played players out of position to try and find a formula that wouldn’t have worked from the get go. So how can an owner work with someone who doesn’t do what the owner has been doing for the last 20 years? It was time for a change and now Watford has a new sheriff in town, Walter Mazzarri.
Mazzarri was announced on the 21st of May 2016 to become the new Watford head coach. Many Watford fans were not too sure on the name and had to indulge in a bit of research on the Italian. Everywhere Mazzarri has been he’s had a positive impact on the club, apart from Inter Milan where he had a torrid time. I for one was slightly underwhelmed at the appointment, however, his antics at Inter Milan clouded my judgement because he was superb at Napoli as well as Sampdoria and Reggina, where he famously got them to safety after Reggina started the season with -13 points. I can see why Gino Pozzo has appointed Mazzarri as manager, he excels at clubs with no pressure on them and has yet to have a bad season at a club that isn’t expected to do much. For example, Mazzarri guided Sampdoria to a 6th place finish in Serie A. Let’s not forget that before Mazzarri left Sampdoria to take over Napoli, Napoli was a team hovering around mid-table and he turned them into an Italian and European force.
Mazzarri is a typical Italian manager, he likes to play a 352 or a modified 352 system. This will benefit Deeney and Ighalo mostly because unlike last season, they will get crosses into the box and most importantly, they will get service from at least three different players. the wing backs and the man who’s going to be given the free role in CM, NOT a number 10 role, which looks likely to be Steven Berghuis. It’s also a positive sign going forward that Mazzarri turned Cavani into a complete 20+ goal a season striker, with this system Mazzarri deployed, Cavani managed to get 104 goals in 138 appearances for Napoli. Obviously, he’s different class to the strikers Watford have, but it shows that it’s a system that will give you goals.
The part I can’t stress enough is that you don’t NEED to be that good defensively as a wing back in a 352. Depending on who Mazzarri will play in the two CM spots, the wing backs will be acting more or less as wingers the whole game, unless when Watford don’t have the ball of course. Behrami is nailed on to start which will give even more freedom to the player who is going to get the Hamsik role, and Zuniga and Holebas who will most likely be the wing backs will stretch the opposition, leaving space in the middle further up the pitch for Berghuis or whomever it may be. This 352 system that Mazzarri possesses, Is five players attacking when Watford have the ball and ten players defending when Watford don’t have the ball. Ighalo will stay up the pitch at all times and Deeney will drop into the middle so it will look more like a 541 formation. The fitness levels and discipline the Watford players will need to be at It’s highest if they want this style of play to work. I believe this is a structure that would suit Matej Vydra down to the ground. Pace, great finisher, and his movement Is second to none.