First Team 1 week ago

Masina: “I Am Hungry, I Want More”

By Kevin Affleck

Adam Masina says he feels humbled and truly at home at Watford after discovering the fans have conjured up a song for him. 

The increasingly popular left-back has started the last five league games and was chuffed to find out after the home game with Everton that the supporters were chanting his name to the tune of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.

“It’s an honour,” he said. “I am very happy for this and glad. I want to say thank you a lot as the feeling this gives you is unbelievable. I didn't hear it [during the game] of course as I am too focused on the pitch. My friend told me they were singing a song about me and I was like, ‘Really?’ He showed me a video and I was like, ‘Wow’.”

The game against Everton also marked his first goal for the club, although the joy at achieving that milestone was tempered by the crushing disappointment of the result.

“It was incredible to score, especially at Vicarage Road,” he said. “That made it more amazing. I score very few goals so it is a moment of happiness. I want to make something else for the team, this time in a win. It wasn’t a great goal – it was a good goal. I was lucky as the ball went through two legs.

“I watched it two or three times just to rewatch this kind of action as this type of play can bring us a lot of success. We had a switch of play and a two-v-one with me and Deulofeu, and this action can be very important for us, so we have to continue to show our capacity to do this.”

The goal was confirmation of Masina’s growing role within the team and how he is starting to look really at home on the left-hand side of a back four. The 26-year-old is playing the best football of his 18-month career at Watford and benefitting from a regular run in the side under Nigel Pearson.

“It’s a good moment for me,” he said. “If I think of my performances here at Watford, for sure, yes [it is my best period]. I was a different player at Bologna as I was younger. I think differently about my football now. I realise I have to be focused in every single moment. I am hungry, I want more.

“I can't stop myself – I have to push every time. I am the kind of player that if I stop pushing, I am not myself, my best version. I'm trying to improve myself every day. I never want to think I am finished. This is the only way for me: to keep my mind on football and try to improve every day.”

The performance at Bournemouth in a 3-0 win was easily his best in a Watford shirt. 

“That is for the coach, fans and the journalists to say,” he said. “How we played was exactly the way we planned and studied. The team and the coaches helped me that day.”

He followed that up with a thunderous first-half showing at Villa Park in the next away day, with one crashing aerial first-half challenge on Frederic Guilbert showcasing all the attributes of the strapping 6ft 3in defender.

“The coach in the 23s at Bologna always told me I am this kind of player who can arrive and smash it,” he said. “He told me I am big, tall and fast. I studied this and I know this can be my strength and this can help when the opponent tries to switch play. I am trying to do my best and bring my personality to the team.”

Masina's 16 appearances this season have been the perfect riposte to the disappointment of missing out on an FA Cup final appearance. He was all set for the opportunity of a lifetime when José Holebas was sent off in the final game of the season against West Ham United, but his dreams were quickly dashed when the red card was overturned the following day, meaning the Italian national from Morocco went through the full range of emotions.

“I was excited because one of my dreams was to play in the final and try and win the FA Cup,” he said. “But unfortunately for me, I couldn't play. I couldn't say nothing. This was the choice of the coach. My aim was just to be ready. I couldn't complain. I was excited as I wanted to play in the final. I wasn't upset. I know this is football. I knew if we were to make something we had to make it together.”

Hear Masina’s compelling story in an exclusive interview with the Italian, to be found on club channels over the coming days. 

First Team 2 weeks ago

Pearson: “I’m My Own Man, He’s His Own Man”

Nigel Pearson said his relationship with Craig Shakespeare is fundamental to what he’s trying to achieve at Watford, revealing they only accepted the challenge at Vicarage Road on the basis they would stick to their principles and go about their business with a sense of perspective.

Pearson and Shakespeare, who worked together at West Brom, Hull City and twice at Leicester, walked in the door in December and while laying out a few ground rules, particularly around punctuality and discipline, they immediately set about winning a few hearts and minds. Smiles were immediately restored to faces and the upshot was four wins in five games. 

“We both came here with a similar mindset in that ‘let’s give it a go, let’s enjoy it as well’,” said the Head Coach in an interview with Premier League Productions.

“We both promised ourselves that we wouldn't come into something like this and spend all our time worrying. We want to embrace the challenge and enjoy it for what it is. It's fair to say we've both got quite a dark sense of humour as well, and humour is very important. That doesn't mean everything is a laugh and a joke. It allows you to lighten a difficult mood. There is the right and wrong time to do that.

“It's important that we work with as little fear as possible, but with a realistic outlook on what the task is. If we don't have that we send the wrong message. It’s important that everyone understands what is expected of them to contribute to changing our fortunes.”

Conventional wisdom would have it that Pearson wields the big stick and Shakespeare dangles the carrot, that Pearson plays the bad cop and Shakespeare assumes the good-cop role, but the Head Coach said that isn’t necessarily the case.

“People have mis-placed views on what our two characters are like,” he said. “I think I’m probably a bit more soft than he is and I’m maybe a bit more tolerant of some things. I’m just really pleased I've got him alongside me. It’s two people who have had different experiences and some shared experiences.

“I’m my own man, he’s his own man. We don’t always agree on everything, but we are both team players. It’s also very important for me to have somebody who understands what I am. I’m not always the easiest to work with I’d suspect so it’s actually good to have someone who understands you and who you trust implicty.”