Watford seem to have bounced back into form with the acquistion of Niang from AC Milan. Walter Mazzarri must now build upon this to finish the season strongly.
The Hornets are on a positive run of form, and Walter Mazzarri is understandably pleased with the turn of results. Two weeks ago they sat 15th in the ladder with the pressure mounting on the Italian coach to bring in some much need points and wins. Mazzarri, however, needed key reinforcements in order to get the best out of the squad, and the club delivered on his needs with the arrival of key players from Serie A.
Watford brought in the pacy but somewhat misfiring Frenchman M’Baye Niang, a player who has been at Milan since 2012 but never really lived up to his true potential. Additionally, they signed from Mauro Zarate from Fiorentina, an experienced head in both England and Italy as well as Tom Cleverly to tie up their business nicely.
Since these transfers Watford have delivered on their results; progressing to the fifth round of the FA Cup with wins over Burton and Millwall, plus two wins and two draws in the league. Importantly the 1-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates signaled their return to form, and consigned the Gunners to spend another season without a title (although to be fair they are essentially their own worst enemy). In fact this was Watfords first win over Arsenal in over 30 years.
M’Baye Niang has been absolutely crucial to their resurgence in form, and is a signal to the rest of the league that Watford are no push overs. Niang who so often caused as much joy as he caused frustration seems to have found a league and coach who suits his game. The winger is blessed with skill, pace and speed which was put to good use in their win over Arsenal in which he fully utilised his skill set to push their full backs to the limit.
In their most recent 2-1 win over Burnley, Niang was once again instrumental in gaining the result as he played provider and scorer in equal measure. Here is a player who is not bogged down by the tactical aspect of the game, which is the dogma in Serie A.
Speaking to The Guardian, Walter Mazzarri highlighted the change in attitude and moral within the squad:
“I’m very happy of course because we won. I liked the way we played in the first half but I’m not happy at all about the second,
“This is why I say we have to grow in mentality as a team because the big teams would have closed this game like we should.
“We could have scored three or four goals but we didn’t do it and we risked losing three points for immature mistakes that could have changed the game The only excuse I can find is that we played a very important game a few days ago against Arsenal where we spent a lot in terms of condition. Also we have many players coming back from injury who are still finding the perfect condition but we should have scored the third goal.
“Before this game I told my players that the transfer market is finished and you are the team that is going to be until the end of the season and you always have to go with the same spirit as we had at Arsenal.”
Mazzarri himself is no stranger to struggle, particularly when coaching at then Serie A club Reggina, in which he produced some admirable results including battling a ten point deduction to secure safety on a limited budget. After that Mazzari would go on to coach at Napoli whom he would take to the Champions League regularly, Sampdoria and Inter. The coach is therefore well versed in various types of players, egos and budgets to the point where he usually is able to get the best out of his squad.
Mazzarri seems to be able to get the best out struggling players, or those struggling to reach their full potential. In Niang he has clearly found a way to motivate a winger who so often frustrated many at Milan, as well as at times when he has been loaned out. Niang has the tools and has plenty of potential to lethal for his team on the day. The problem is helping him to maintain his consistency as so many Rossoneri fans are well aware of.
Just a word of warning, keep him away from penalty duty Troy Deeney has that covered.