Hornets forward Mauro Zárate has now officially completed a loan move to Argentine club Vélez Sarsfield.
Zárate, who has been on loan at Al Nasr in the UAE since September, will spend the remainder of the season with Vélez after Watford finally received paperwork in order to process the loan transfer.
Previous announcements were entirely premature as the agreements were only reached today.
Mariappa | “This Is Where We Show Character”
By Kevin Affleck
Adrian Mariappa says the wounded Hornets squad are hurting and that there is such a determination to put things right and end this poor run that the players held an inquest in the changing rooms after the defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
Mariappa did not want to go into who said what and reveal dressing room secrets but he has assured the fans that this difficult run of results is not just being brushed under the carpet.
“I won’t go into detail about what was said but, believe me, the lads definitely had words with each other,” Mariappa said. “Something needed to be said. It’s definitely had an effect judging by training today. We have to do our talking on the pitch from now on. That’s what we’ll be looking to do.”
Mariappa said that while performances may not have been at the required level and there may be an issue with confidence, he said you could not question the application of the players. They are, he says, giving their all.
“We are committed, we do care and we are fully focused on the task at hand,” he said. “100 per cent people care. It hurts us to lose any game, let alone the run we’ve been on. When you don’t win it does hurt and we are looking to put that right. We have to come together, as a collective, and really show that. We definitely are together as a group. The only way we can show that is with our performances.”
Mariappa struggled to put his finger on just why this same group of players left St Mary’s in September sitting pretty in fourth yet departed the same venue on Saturday contemplating an early exit from the FA Cup and worrying about what’s happening at the other end of the table.
“We started the season really well but we are now not in a good run at all,” he said. “In some of the games we have been unlucky. In others we just haven’t performed well enough by our standards. We are fully aware of that and going into the next game we need to be fully focused.”
Mariappa was in the stands supporting the Hornets as a child and was at Wembley when the Hornets beat Bolton Wanderers in the Play-Off Final. He knows what the fans are going through right now as he’s been there.
“I always understand the fans’ frustration,” he said. “They want to see us do well and we want to do well for the fans. It goes hand in hand. The fans travel such a long way and the players are very grateful for their support. We want to give them something to cheer about and we feel bad when we don’t. Their feelings are understandable. It’s important we go over and say thank you. On a few occasions a kid might ask for my shirt so I’m always happy to give it to them.”
Now, says Mariappa, is the chance for the players to repay the fans, a chance to reconnect and give them something to shout about.
“Listen, this is where we have to show our character,” he said. “Even when things were going well for us earlier in the season, some things didn’t go well in games and we showed character to comeback, get draws or get wins. The character is there. You can’t just roll over. We haven’t done that and won’t be doing that. We owe it to ourselves and to the fans. We now just have to do our talking on the pitch.”
The Golden Boys have the opportunity to show what they are made of at the Britannia Stadium, never an easy place to go let alone on a cold Wednesday night in January.
“We are focused on Wednesday now,” he said. “We know what a massive game it is. We’ll be fighting to get three points. A few of the lads, particularly Ben Watson, have said their piece about the game and we all know it’s a massive one. Every game from now on is.
“We have to get a win, that’s the most important thing. We’ll be concentrating on the tactics and the task at hand and giving everything to give us the best chance of winning the game. Yes, it’s a tough game but the lads are fully focused.
“We have to be together. We know there will be a great away support again. We have to all stand together, in the good times and the tough times and come through the other side.”
Mariappa also said the players are acclimatising well to life under new Head Coach Javi Gracia.
“He’s not been here that long but we are getting used to how he wants us to play,” said Mariappa. “He’s very thorough in the detail of how he wants us to play. We have been working hard in training to get it right.”