Watford defender Adrian Mariappa says people writing them off is the motivation they need to beat relegation this season.
The Premier League basement boys are beginning to show signs of life after finally picking up their first home win of the season against Manchester United on Sunday.
Victory over the Red Devils, their first under new manager Nigel Pearson, brought them to within six points of safety.
“Everyone thinks we are going to go down but that is exactly the energy we need for this fight,” Mariappa told Mirror Sport ahead of Sunday’s trip to Watford.
“It’s ok to doubt us and think that we are finished but that is exactly what football is about. I have been in worse situations than this.
“When I was at Palace the team we had there was nowhere near the quality we have here and we still managed to finish mid table, so I’ve got full belief that we will turn this around.”
Pearson’s arrival has given the Hornets a new lease of life, with the 56-year-old considered an expert in managing teams who are desperate for survival in the Premier League.
Mariappa, a committed central defender who can tuck in at right back when needed, is forthright and honest with the amount of work Pearson has at hand but has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.
He said: “What he’s come in to do is that he’s lifted the energy levels and that includes even the kitchen staff, obviously it’s been unacceptable at the start of the season and Hayden and Stacky coming in has also aided because you can see the boys running for each other and defending for each other.
“He’s got his own coaching staff and they have been working with their experience of being in situations like this and that has raved us up in the last two games and I think you can see that. He’s raised all the standards even around the training ground and that is what you are seeing now, all those little things add to the performance at the weekend.
“The overall interest in wanting to go that extra-mile and putting our bodies on the line for each other has grown and in the position we find ourselves that is the minimum we can ask from each other, we do have the quality to go on and score goals so now it’s just about that.”
The win against Manchester United also saw captain Troy Deeney register his first goal of the season having missed eleven games through injury.
His fitness, form and commitment has always rubbed off on his teammates and Mariappa agrees Deeney has always led from the front, and with winnable games against Sheffield United and Villa coming up this Christmas his return could not have been more timely.
Mariappa said: “I’ve known Troy for a long time and he is exactly how he comes across, he doesn’t have two faces straight and doesn’t like people hiding. He wears his heart on his sleeves and he wants the best for the team and obviously he is a big leader as well and thankfully we’ve got some really big characters in the changing room and we draw on all of those people to come through difficult positions.”
“Troy, not just for his goals his fight, is what keeps everyone going so it’s really helpful that he is in amongst us fighting on the pitch together.”
The overall improved performance in the last two games has also seen a transformation in young Senegalese forward Ismaila Sarr, the club’s record signing from Rennes who has struggled with his adaptation to English football.
Sarr, like Liverpool ’s Sadio Mane, started his career with Generation Foot in Senegal before being transferred to Metz in France where his European football adventure started.
Mariappa added: “Yeah we know how these things can work because it’s new environment and he has to learn the language and food and even how we play so we all have to be calm and help his adaptation. He is a good lad so it makes things easy to get across to him.”
“I think he has been terrific in the last few weeks because in the league obviously he’s played right wing ahead of me as well and the work he does for the team defensively definitely doesn’t go unnoticed and he has got blistering pace and I’m delighted for him that he has finally got his goal that is like a monkey behind his back so yeah I can see good things coming his way.”