Warning: You will not agree with this article.
Although nothing is yet official regarding Adrian Mariappa’s future, it seems that it does not lie at Watford, with the vice-captain reportedly at Reading this morning for a medical. As ever in these days of add ons, sell on fees and financial obscurity, no price has been, nor is likely to ever be, announced, but it would seem that the figure lies somewhere between two and three million pounds.
I am well aware that my opinion of Aidy differs hugely from the majority of Watford fans – so to have a subject so divisive come up in the opening week of this blog’s existence is less than ideal! – but here is my two penneth, nonetheless.
Anything over £2 million pounds is phenomenal business for a player of Adrian Mariappa’s talents.
There is no denying that he has come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so, and has put in some good, but never (in my opinion) great performances this last season, but he remains a centre half of average Championship ability. In a campaign in which he won the Player of the Season award by some distance, I wouldn’t have had him in my top ten, especially as he’s not even in our top two centre backs! Martin Taylor, though hampered by injury, and Nyron Nosworthy, a revelation after signing in January, both performed better in their admittedly-shorter seasons.
Which is not to say that he hasn’t had his moments – some great last-ditch challenges, and imperious surges, enabled by his increased composure, flash through the mind when recalling his recent time at Watford – but it is that fact, that they are merely moments, which stops him from being an above-average Championship player, and one that is capable of challenging for a place in the Premier League. His lack of consistency means that he makes some awful errors. Few would deny that towards the end of 2011 Scott Loach bordered on calamitous, but this was enabled by Mariappa’s tendency to put him under pressure with awful back passes (Bristol City at home) and shockingly indecisive defending (Cardiff at home) – two examples that both ended with Aidy being credited with an own goal. Both were bad goalkeeping, but both were in no little part down to Mariappa.
This may be sounding overly-negative: he’s done well to decrease the errors in his game, considering that only a few years ago they were ubiquitous in his performances, and at his rate of improvement may well become a solid defender at this level. In addition, he is, so it would seem, a great presence in the changing room, as evidenced by his role as vice-captain.
Indeed, I remember sitting on the platform of South Bermondsey station in the freezing cold before the Millwall match in January continuously checking for updates in the Mariappa-to-Wigan saga, and was sincerely pleased when he stayed. Holding off moving (though Wigan was hardly a tantalising option) to see Watford through what was a tough season showed a lot of class and a love for the club. His leaving would have left us woefully under-equipped at the back and would have seen us finish a lot less strongly than we did.
I wish him well, of course, and hope that he does prove me wrong (247 first team appearences, fifteen thousand Watford fans and a raft of Premier League scouts disagreeing with me suggests it’s likely). But with Taylor and Nosworthy battling it out to be our starting big man at the back, and Dale Bennett and Adam Thompson being put under pressure by the new regime to prove their worth, not to mention the youngsters twiddling their thumbs in Northern Italy that need somewhere to play, I don’t feel his departure will leave too big a hole on the pitch. And a £2 million profit is nothing to be sniffed at, and is yet another success story for the famed Watford academy.