Mazzarri | “Continuity In Performance”
By Kevin Affleck
Walter Mazzarri will check on the fitness of Miguel Britos and Valon Behrami ahead the trip to Old Trafford, where he is seeking a 90-minute performance from his team.
Both have missed training days this week and the medical staff will assess them today to see if they will be fit to play against the Red Devils or if they will join Nordin Amrabat (ankle), Camilo Zuniga (fever), Costel Pantilimon (ankle) and Christian Kabasele (muscular) on the sidelines.
Mazzarri takes the rest of the near fully-fit squad to Manchester full of confidence on the back of a four-match unbeaten run, including back-to-back wins.
“These two victories were important for confidence,” said the Head Coach.
“For us to be a great team, to make the next step forward we need to have continuity in performance. We played well in the first-half of both games [against Arsenal and Burnley] but bad in the second.
“This is something we need to change if we want to make the next step. What we did in the first-half we have to do for the whole 90 minutes."
United are without defeat in their last 15 league games, their longest unbeaten stretch since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. The Hornets go there chasing a first victory at United's home since 1978.
“We are playing away in this great stadium and Manchester United, along with Chelsea, have lost very few games in the whole season, only three,” said Mazzarri.
“They have 15 positive results and this tells you a lot about who we are going to play against. They are in a great condition, especially when they played against Leicester.”
Chelsea, Manchester City and Watford are the only teams to have tasted victory against United in the league this season, the Hornets' historic win – their first over United in more than 30 years – coming in memorable fashion in September thanks to goals from Etienne Capoue, Zuniga and Troy Deeney.
“If they only lost three games [this season], and one of them is against us, then this gives great value to our victory,” said the Head Coach.
"We met them in another part of the season. The season is very long and a great manager like Mourinho was always going to do well with Manchester United. He's now showing it.”
Mazzarri did not see eye to eye with Mourinho when the Portuguese was in charge of Inter Milan, repeatedly clashing when his Napoli and Sampdoria teams met with Inter. However, they buried the hatchet at Vicarage Road earlier this season.
“He was a complete gentleman," said Mazzarri. "I saw him immediately after the game and we spoke, we even joked about some things. I was the same towards him. We have mutual respect and we try to do the best with the teams we have got.”
Watford's Head Coach lived in Manchester after he left Inter in a bid to immerse himself in the English culture ahead of landing a Premier League job. Yet tomorrow's game will be his first visit to Old Trafford.
“It's one of the few English stadiums I haven't been to," he said. "I've been to Stamford Bridge, Manchester City and Liverpool but never been to this stadium. I'm curious how it will be.
“The stadiums here give you a great atmosphere, it gives you adrenaline. It would mean a lot [if we won there]. It would mean we made the step forward. It would mean as well we could make a result against any team. I'm curious to see how we will be tomorrow, to see if we can get a positive result."