“Competition Brings Maximum Performance”

Walter Mazzarri says he wants to replicate the healthy competition he has for the number nine role all over the pitch.

The Head Coach rotated Troy Deeney and Stefano Okaka for the recent spell of three games in a week, starting Okaka against Sunderland and Tottenham while giving Deeney, who has scored six in his last eight league starts, the nod for the game in the middle against West Brom.

He feels the fact the Hornets have their fourth all-time leading scorer and an Italy international vying for the lone striker role speaks volumes for the strength in depth the club has in that department. 

"For next year we want two good players for every role," said Mazzarri. "We have got that this year with the number nine. Competition brings maximum performance and I think this is what our fans would like to see."

Mazzarri went on to explain in detail his decision to start Okaka twice and Deeney only once. 

"Troy is okay and is available," he confirmed. "Before the Sunderland game he had a problem and couldn't train for eight days. For Sunderland I chose Okaka as he managed to do all training and he was in a very good condition. We won and we played very well as a team, including Okaka.

"Three days later we played against West Bromwich and Troy played, even though we played well against Sunderland. After Sunderland, Troy trained very well with the team and he played very well. We won again playing very well. We won both games with both of the choices.

"The third one, against Tottenham, we needed more help in the defensive phase and Okaka was more fresh. It doesn't mean Troy wasn't in a good physical condition. I took many things into my decision: the work, the recovery – all the things a manager takes into consideration."

Mazzarri, who has been coaching for 16 years, says he likes it when players are unhappy if they have been left out. He doesn't want players who are content to sit on the bench. 

"I know all the players that don't play are not happy," he says. "This is normal. The fact they are not happy means they are keen to play and that they are very professional. I'm sure it was the same for Okaka against West Brom when he did not play."

Mazzarri says he will announce the line-up to his players tomorrow morning. "We play these games with 14 players and it's just as important who goes on the bench as it is who plays. I am here to make the club grow and get the best performances and results as possible."

First Team 10/04/2017

Milestone | Mariappa 250

When Adrian Mariappa pulled on his Watford shirt against Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2011/2012 season, you would have been forgiven for thinking he would forever be stranded on 247 appearances for the Hornets. 

However, the Academy graduate's return to the club at the beginning of this season provided the Jamaican international with the chance to further write his name into the club’s history books. 

Almost eleven years after his senior debut, Mariappa’s place in the starting line-up against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday finally secured the much coveted quarter of a century accolade. 

We take a look back at exactly how Mariappa reached 250 appearances, and highlight some of the milestones along the way. 


5 appearances, 0 goals 

A 19-year-old Adrian Mariappa didn’t have to wait long at the start of the 2005/2006 Championship season to make his Watford debut. 

A Carling Cup clash against Notts County at The Vic provided Watford fans with their first glimpse of Mariappa in a yellow shirt. Partnering Jay DeMerit at the back, Mariappa marked his debut with an assured performance in a 3-1 Watford win.

Mariappa would go on to start in the third round defeat at Wigan, before making his league debut as a second-half substitute against Leeds United in February 2006. 

A further appearance from the bench would follow in a 2-1 win against QPR on the penultimate weekend of the season, before being rewarded with a full league debut in a 0-0 home draw with Hull City on the last day of the season.

Mariappa would go on to earn a place on the bench as Aidy Boothroyd’s side secured promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, rounding of a hugely successful season both for Mariappa and the club. 


25 appearances, 0 goals

Despite making just five appearances in all competitions during the previous campaign, Mariappa had made enough of an impact to earn a starting place in the Hornets’ opening day Premier League clash away at Everton. 

A 2-1 defeat ensued, with Mariappa then having to wait until the middle of December for his next Premier League appearance. Once back in the team, Mariappa featured heavily in the rest of the campaign and was an ever present in the side that reached the semi-final of that season’s FA Cup. 


30 appearances, 0 goals 

Relegated back to the Championship, Mariappa found himself in and out of the side that eventually missed out on an immediate return to the Premier League with defeat in the play-off semi-finals. 

He did, however, chalk up his 50th appearance for the club on the 12th February 2008 in a 1-0 win over Leicester City at The Vic. 


47 appearances, 1 goal 

A season of managerial change at Vicarage Road, but Mariappa’s positon at the heart of the defence was a consistent presence throughout. Under the leadership of Aidy Boothroyd, briefly Malky Mackay and then Brendan Rodgers, Mariappa would go on to enjoy the most productive campaign of his career to date. 

More inclined to prevent the ball going in his own net, Mariappa would also enjoy the rare feeling of scoring as he struck his maiden Watford goal in a 3-1 defeat away at Wolves in January 2009. 

In a season of personal success, his 100th appearance wasn’t far behind either, coming in a 0-0 draw with Ipswich in March of the same year. 


49 appearances, 1 goal 

Now under the management of Malky Mackay, Mariappa continued to flourish under the leadership of the former Watford centre-half. 

Despite being the tender age of 22, Mariappa’s maturity and consistent performances earned him the honour of leading out the Hornets for the first time in a 1-0 win over Burnley in September 2009. 

Mariappa would go on to be the only player to feature in every league and cup game for the Hornets that season, ticking off 150 games for the club in the process during his side’s 1-1 draw at Preston in April 2010. 


49 appearances, 1 goal

More of the same for Mariappa during the 2010/2011 season, with another 49 appearances and another single goal.

A first red card of his career against Middlesbrough in March 2011 ended a highly impressive run of 114 consecutive appearances for the club – the fifth highest in the club’s history.

However, that didn’t stop him chalking off his 200th appearance for the Golden Boys with that milestone arriving during a 2-2 home draw with Norwich in April 2011. 


42 appearances, 1 goal

In what would turn out to be his final season in his first spell at the club, Mariappa marked his farewell with a fine personal campaign under the guidance of another former defender in Sean Dyche. 

Scoring his single goal in a 3-2 victory over Leicester in February 2012, Mariappa would finish the season as Watford’s Player of the Season, as voted for by both the fans and players. 

His final appearance for the club came at The Vic on the final day of the 2011/12 Championship season against Middlesbrough, and fittingly ended in a 2-1 Hornets win. 


3 appearances, 0 goals 

They say good things come to those who wait and after a four season absence from Vicarage Road, Mariappa finally earned his 248th appearance in January’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Millwall.

249 was to follow last Tuesday (April 4) when Mariappa came on as a second-half replacement in the 2-0 Premier League victory over West Bromwich Albion before reaching finally a quarter of a century in Saturday’s Premier League defeat at Spurs.