Watford manager Walter Mazzarri says he needs ‘two or three new players’

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri before the match

Walter Mazzarri has said he still hopes to strengthen the spine of his Watford team with “two or three new players”, as the countdown to the Premier League kick off continues.

The 54-year-old Italian has become the Hornets’ seventh coach in five seasons since taking over from the popular Quique Sánchez Flores. Watford have been largely quiet in the transfer window this summer, with striker Isaac Success and defender Christian Kabasele being their sole big-money signings. But Mazzarri hopes to change that.

“The club has given me the possibility to go ahead with two or three new players,” he said at his unveiling on Wednesday. “They say it’s no problem if we need them, and I think we need them. I prefer not to go into much detail but it will probably be one of each position of defence, midfield and forward.”

Watford face Southampton, Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United in their opening five fixtures, but Mazzarri insists he has not set a points target and wants to give his new players as much time as possible to adapt to his tactics.

“The pressure motivates me and makes me work even harder,” said the former Napoli and Internazionale coach, speaking through an interpreter at his first press conference as Watford manager. “Last year Watford did very well, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but I don’t like to look back. I am here now and feel very comfortable and motivated to do a good job.”

He said he had a relationship with the Italian owner of Watford, the Pozzo family, that meant he was not anxious about getting early points on the board, starting at St Mary’s on Saturday. “I spoke with the club and being a new manager, but also an experienced one, they allowed me to evaluate the players already at the club first. This is what I have been doing until now,” he said.

“I think that at the moment only about improving the team. I’m not thinking about last year’s points or this year’s points. I’m thinking about growing match by match and how we can do that in the best possible way. I don’t set limits at this minute.”

One player who Mazzarri is pleased to have kept on his books is Troy Deeney. The club captain was the subject of approaches from champions Leicester City earlier in the summer before eventually signing a new contract at Vicarage Road.

“Troy for us is very important,” said Mazzarri, “he’s the captain and leader of the team. When you go to a club you ask for information, and I was told that Troy is the leader of Watford and that he loves the shirt. That is very important.”

Mazzarri arrives with a reputation both as a disciplinarian and a coach who improves the players in his squad. During three seasons at Napoli he developed Edison Cavani into one of the most fearsome strikers in the world, more than doubling his goals to game ratio, before the Uruguayan moved to Paris St Germain in 2013.

“I consider myself the boss of the group and to me it is very important that there are rules and mutual respect in a group. Victory comes from this respect,” said Mazzarri. “A lot of people tend to forget [my role in developing players]. All the strikers I’ve worked with have beaten their previous records but this is because of all the hard work and the mentality the players acquire. This is why I say it’s important that the players learn.”

One story the new manager was keen to distance himself from was that he had lit a cigarette in the dressing room at half-time during a friendly defeat at QPR in July. “It’s not true at all that I was smoking inside the dressing room. This was pure invention,” he said. “But yes, nobody is perfect, I do smoke but I want to say and this is very important, that I have great respect for the person next to me and if they tell me not to smoke, I won’t smoke.”

When pressed as to whether he would allow his players to smoke, Mazzarri responded with a firm Italian “no”.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul MacInnes, for The Guardian on Thursday 11th August 2016 01.02 Europe/London

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