Belfast Telegraph

Mazzarri eager to keep Cleverley at Watford beyond end of this season

Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri is eager to keep Tom Cleverley at Vicarage Road beyond the end of the season.

The Hornets signed Cleverley on loan from Everton in January with a view to a permanent transfer and the midfielder has settled in quickly at his new club.

Watford have gone four Premier League matches unbeaten with Cleverley on the pitch, including back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Burnley, both of which the 27-year-old started.

Cleverley will be aiming to make it three from three against his old club Manchester United on Saturday and Mazzarri hopes his new acquisition stays at Watford for good.

"I want to say Tom Cleverley has surprised me in a positive way in how well he managed to get in this environment," Mazzarri said.

"It seems like he has been playing for us since a long time. Of course it would make me very happy if he would stay here with us because he is not only a great player but we need him as well."

Cleverley was one of three January arrivals at Watford along with M'Baye Niang and Mauro Zarate, both of whom started the win against Burnley, with Niang heading home the decisive goal.

After a disappointing Christmas period, Watford appear to have turned a corner, having climbed to 10th in the table and 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

Mazzarri believes the new signings have given the whole squad a lift.

"I always said that competition is very important for us and for the players," Mazzarri said.

"The players that are coming back and starting to play means there is competition. Even Troy (Deeney), you see he is doing extremely well now, much more than before.

"He knows that I expect the maximum intensity in training because at the end of training I take my decisions and decide who can play."

Watford are one of only three teams, along with Chelsea and Manchester City, to have beaten United this season after their 3-1 success back in September.

Jose Mourinho's men have enjoyed a resurgence since then, however, and head to Old Trafford on the back of a 15-match unbeaten run in the league.

"I want to underline, especially that if they lost only three games in the whole season, and one of them is against us, then this gives great value to our victory," Mazzarri said.

"We met them in another part of the season. The season is very long and I said after that game that a great manager like Jose Mourinho was going to do well with Manchester United.

"They come with 15 games with consecutive positive results where they have had eight victories. This tells you a lot about who we are going to play against."

Valon Behrami is struggling with a knock ahead of the game while Nordin Amrabat is out with an ankle injury and Juan Zuniga has been sidelined with a fever.

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