Watford players will give all in season finale, says departing boss Mazzarri
Walter Mazzarri is confident his Watford players will not down tools against Manchester City on Sunday despite them knowing he will not be in charge next season.
Watford’s final match of the campaign will also be Mazzarri’s last as manager after the club announced on Wednesday the Italian would be stepping down.
The Hornets are in poor form, having suffered defeat in their last five consecutive matches, with reports suggesting Mazzarri has lost the support of his players.
Troy Deeney was named on the bench against Chelsea last week and Mazzarri sidestepped questions on Thursday about a possible fall-out with his captain.
Mazzarri believes his squad will be fully committed against City this weekend.
“I spoke with them one by one as soon as they knew I would not be here next season,” the manager said.
“I’m sure they will go on Sunday and give everything. It’s a feeling I got inside me when I spoke to them.”
Deeney is a doubt for the match at Vicarage Road with a hip injury and Adrian Mariappa could also sit out after picking up a knock in training.
Mariappa’s absence could leave Mazzarri short in defence. Sebastian Prodl is suspended while Younes Kaboul (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knee), Christian Kabasele (hamstring) and Miguel Britos (calf) are all struggling for fitness.
Pep Guardiola believes Watford could rouse themselves to make life tough for Manchester City on Sunday.
City need at least a point in their final game of the season at Vicarage Road to earn another shot at the Champions League.
But, given Watford’s recent troubles, City will be expected to claim the win that will secure third place in the Premier League.
Guardiola, however, is taking nothing for granted and has warned that the 16th-placed Hornets are capable of finishing the campaign with a flourish.
“I believe a lot in the football players,” Guardiola said. “Football players are so professional. They want to win, they want to make a good performance.
“It’s the last game, so in the end Watford have made a good season (because) from weeks ago they were safe.
“When you analyse player by player, they always have very good players. You have to be careful.”
Defender John Stones could return to the Manchester City starting line-up.
The England centre-back returned as a late substitute in the midweek Premier League win over West Brom after six games out with a groin injury.
Midfielders Fabian Delph (leg) and Ilkay Gundogan (knee), and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (calf) are out while right-back Pablo Zabaleta makes his final appearance for the club.
There is also uncertainty over the futures of Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy, who are all out of contract this summer.