Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mackay's Still Searching for Premier Fringe Players to Help Watford Cut It

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mackay's Still Searching for Premier Fringe Players to Help Watford Cut It

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Gibb

CONNECTIONS always help when a Football League boss wants to borrow a top-flight player but Malky Mackay thinks it is more than just good links which have helped Watford land some of the most promising Premier League talent on loan. Although his side begin their Championship campaign at Norwich tonight, Mackay is still working on bringing in players on temporary deals -- something which worked to such good effect last term.

Tom Cleverley returned to Manchester United this summer after being the outstanding player in the division while Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury also profited under Mackay.

Persuading Sir Alex Ferguson to let Cleverley move to cash-strapped Watford was a coup for Mackay, who revealed: "My dad used to be a teammate of Sir Alex back in the days when they played for Queens Park. So I have known him for some considerable time and that makes it a lot easier to ring him and ask once more if he has a young player he needs developing in a Championship first team."

The average second-tier boss might think twice about having the nerve to make such a request but Mackay knows he will be treated decently.

He said: "I am sure it is in part about me being a young Scottish manager whom he is kind enough to help but also I would like to think he knows that young loan players have flourished here.

"Both Tom and Henri won their first England Under-21 caps here and we always aim to send them back to their parent clubs as better players. There was nothing better than Tom in the Championship last season.

"I have been on the phone to Sir Alex already but quite sensibly he prefers to wait until they have finished their preseason touring and to see whether a signing or two might release another youngster who needs to develop in a first-team atmosphere away from Old Trafford."

No doubt Arsene Wenger, who at Arsenal's London Colney training ground is literally across the hedge from Watford's base, will also be sounded out about any more talents available.

Mackay said: "Henri went back a bet-ter player than when he arrived and we are building a good relationship.

"Last season when the snow was heavy for a couple of weeks, Arsenal very kindly allowed us to use their fantastic indoor facilities in the afternoons after they had finished. …

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