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Fan Focus: Watford - Amrabat the key man according to David of Golden Pages

David Anderson from Watford fanzine Golden Pages was once again on hand to chat to us. He gave Rory the gossip on Walter Mazzarri, what Watford's ambitions are going forward, as well as previewing tomorrow's game.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

RF: Watford this season have reminded me of Sunderland in the Steve Bruce era. A great start, looking like they'll achieve a comfortable top half finish, followed by a huge dip in form, where you end up looking over your shoulder. Are the fans annoyed that the teams form has dropped off so much or did you always see it coming?

DA: I think that's a really sensible comparison. Early in the season our performances were inconsistent but we kept picking up points even when we weren't playing well. Now it feels like even the occasional good performance isn't rewarded with a win. The longer Mazzarri went on without learning English the more we expected this kind of dip in form, I think. It feels as though both the supporters and players are finding it hard to really connect with him or understand what style of football he's trying to play here.

RF: Since Quique Sanchez Flores was given the boot for a similar collapse in form, do you think Walter Mazzarri will be shown the door in the summer?

DA: In all honesty it wouldn't surprise me. About this time last year the Sanchez Flores rumours began and most people - with the exception of Watford fans - were shocked. But we could see his flaws first hand, particularly the stubbornness and lack of ambition on the pitch and I think by the time he left we were disappointed to see a nice man leave but understood the decision. This year it feels more blurred. We can't pinpoint what Mazzarri is trying to achieve which I think makes it more difficult to decide whether he will improve with time. His relationship with the press and fans seems cold and impersonal which won't help his case. I expect we'll be hearing rumours of potential replacements before long.

RF: If Mazzarri does go, what kind of appointment do you see the owners making? Is there any worry starting to creep in that they're happy with the club just bobbing along in the Premier League, so they can continue to develop players from other Pozzo owned clubs as well as being a good commercial entity, or do you think they're determined to bring success to Watford?

DA: Having seen a fair few Pozzo appointments already, I don't think any Watford fan would be brave enough to place a wager on our next manager. Most have been plucked out of obscurity and even the higher profile Sanchez Flores and Mazzarri were curve balls. I expect it will be a manager from the continent with experience of managing a lower league club, in a top division and keeping them there.

As for ambition, I don't think there's any doubt that the Pozzo family have Watford's best interests at heart. That said, is 'just' bobbing along in the Premier League really such a bad thing? I know it's not the most exciting experience but realistically this is the most a club of our size should expect for now, with the occasional cup run or flirt with a potential European place to keep us excited. We've gone past the stage of developing players for Udinese. In fact, we've now begun loaning out some of our players to the other clubs and taking our pick from some of their best players. They want to make a profit but only to keep the clubs running sustainable. It's a sensible system.

RF: Who should Sunderland fans be worried about, heading into the game? Any Watford men in a good run of form?

DA: We've finally seen the return of Nordin Amrabat after his injury over the winter period, so keep an eye out for him. If, in the next few weeks, he plays as well as he did in the first half of the season, then he's bound to win our player of the season award. Sadly Zarate picked up a nasty injury just as he was hitting form, but Niang and Cleverley have also impressed since joining in January.

RF: Jermain Defoe is always the obvious one but we've gone 4 games without a goal now, so is there anyone worrying you in the Sunderland side?

DA: Still Defoe - especially after his England goal! Our defence can be a shambles at times, so I expect it'll only take a hopeful ball in the box, that we fail to clear and Defoe will pop up to finish it. We've also been poor at defending out wide recently, so if Januzaj is on form then he could cause problems.

RF: How do you see Mazzarri approaching the game and what do you think his starting XI will be?

DA: The golden question!

Last match against Crystal Palace he started four centre-backs, with Cathcart playing as a right-back and Britos at left-back. He even had Janmaat as a right-midfielder. I expect he'll still with four at the back and I expect Amrabat will come back in with Niang on the other wing. Deeney will probably be alone up front so either a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 seems likely. Watch out for Isaac Success off the bench - he's our secret weapon!

Here's my guess for the starting XI: Gomes; Janmaat, Cathcart, Prodl, Holebas; Amrabat, Capoue, Behrami, Cleverley, Niang; Deeney.


You can check out Golden Pages on their website and follow them on Twitter!