Watford boss Walter Mazzarri: Troy Deeney strike had a touch of Maradona class
Published 17/09/2016 | 22:36
Watford manager Walter Mazzarri believes Troy Deeney's wonder-goal against West Ham bears comparison to the genius finishing of Diego Maradona.
The Hornets captain produced an exceptional strike, curling the ball into the top right corner from a difficult angle to score Watford's second goal in last week's 4-2 Premier League victory.
It was perhaps the highest quality moment of a career largely built on industry and physicality, and crucially took Watford level on the stroke of half-time.
Mazzarri has become aware of Deeney's cult hero status at Watford in the same way his time at Napoli gave him knowledge of Maradona's significance in Naples.
To put him in the same group as the Argentinian widely considered the world's greatest ever footballer represents a stretch.
The manager, however, rightly recognised it was a finish of which few are capable, and urged his team to build on last week's success when on Sunday they host Manchester United.
"What Deeney did against West Ham was a great goal," said the Italian, whose win was his first as Watford manager. "Only a few players can do it and one of them was Maradona.
"It was incredible, but what I ask from Deeney and the whole squad - but Deeney is captain - is continuity.
"(Victory over United) would bring us three points closer to our objective. (But) an experienced coach like me knows the Premier League does not finish this weekend, so we will (have to) take it to the next game.
"If we happen to win, after two days of being very happy it's up to me to tell the players they immediately need to concentrate on the next game."
Mazzarri on Friday spoke of his intention to invite United manager Jose Mourinho - a rival of his while the two worked in Serie A - for a post-game drink despite the tension that previously existed between them.
Mourinho once described the Italian as a "donkey", while Mazzarri dismissed him for talking "so much rubbish". Yet since his arrival in England, Mazzarri has grown to appreciate the mutual respect he believes exists between managers, and said it is something from which Italian football can learn.
"In Italy sometimes, there are moments in the career of each coach, especially with new and young coaches who say one or two things that should not be said," explained the 54-year-old Italian.
"I like the mentality here in the UK. Coaches in Italy should be more like that. Win or lose, you shake the opposition's hand. Even if I was in Italy now that's how I would act, like in the UK."
Defenders Sebastian Prodl and Younes Kaboul face late fitness tests before Mazzarri selects his team to face United. Stefano Okaka has been ruled out for the coming four to six weeks with the hamstring injury suffered at West Ham.