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Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic target Adrian Mariappa happy at Watford
11:50am Friday 18th May 2012 in Watford FC News
Adrian Mariappa insists he is happy to remain at Watford but accepts things can “change in a short space of time”.
Mariappa is a graduate of Watford’s academy and has made 247 appearances for the club since his debut in 2005.
The father-of-three has been a mainstay of the Hornets side in recent years and has excelled in his favoured position of centre half.
The 25-year-old was the clear winner of both the Watford Observer Player of the Season Trophy and the Players’ Player of the Year crown and his displays attracted the interest of a host of Premier League clubs.
Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic bid for the defender in January and Swansea City also enquired about the centre back at the beginning of the season, but were put off by the club’s asking price.
Mariappa only has a year left on his contract and considering Watford’s player trading policy, it has led to concern among supporters that he could be sold in the summer.
The defender, who reiterated he was “happy to stay”, said: “No I can't really say there have been any decisions yet. Football is a funny old game and you don’t know what could happen because things change in a short space of time.
“The way I looked at it during the speculation in January was just to concentrate on training and games and take each game as it came. If anything arises, then deal with it. That is how I have always looked at it and that is how I will look at it in the future.”
Mariappa was speaking to the Watford Observer before the end of the season and we understand there has been no change to his situation since then.
When asked whether he had been offered a new contract, Mariappa replied: “I am sure at the end of the season, all the things like that will be talked about but all I have been doing is concentrating on my football and trying to get back in the team.”
Mariappa was linked with Ipswich Town briefly a couple of seasons ago and Swansea last summer but January was the first time there were firm offers made for the centre back.
He took the interest in his stride though and maintained a high level of performance until his injury in mid-March, which saw Mariappa lose his place for the final few games of the season.
Mariappa said: “I wouldn’t say the interest and speculation was difficult, it was just something that was new to me as I had not had that before. It was a new experience for me but through all that I just tried to concentrate on what was happening here and playing well. That kept me focussed.”
The soon-to-be Jamaican international (see page 54) has excelled at centre back in the last two seasons and he agrees this has been the best campaign of his seven-year career.
Martin Taylor has been Mariappa’s centre back partner since Tiny’s arrival in January 2010 but injury to the giant centre back in October resulted in the signing of Nyron Nosworthy, initially on loan before the switch was made permanent.
He said: “I picked up my first injury which halted me in the back end of the season but I think I have been in good form on the whole.
“The team have been playing well and I have struck up a good partnership with Nyron and I already had a good partnership with Tiny, so it has been a season of progression more than anything.
“I think as I have been getting older, I have been improving. I try to improve every day in training so in terms of consistency and performance levels, it has been my best season personally.
“But I want to try to improve on that next season and keep improving as a player.”
Mariappa believes it is a season where Watford have also progressed, as a team and a club, and whilst he accepted it “took a while to gel”, the Hornets finished the 2011/12 campaign strongly.
Watford secured 20 points from losing positions this season – the fifth highest in the Championship – and also kept seven away clean sheets; their highest number since 2004/05.
When asked whether there has been an improvement in the squad’s mentality this season, Mariappa replied: “Most definitely. I think you can see that from the results. This season we have had more depth and experience in the squad and it has shown.
“In certain games last season we would have lost or drawn games we have won this season. This year we have reversed it and come back from losing situations to win games.
“The mental strength of the group has definitely improved from last season and the beginning of this season.
“People like Big Chris (Iwelumo) and Nyron have played at a high level most of their career and are experienced and it rubs off on the younger lads. I know it did when I was 18 and 19; training with people like Malky Mackay had a massive affect on my career and I definitely think it will help the younger lads and will make them mentally stronger as well.”