“I would love to go to Wembley. I have never been there.” Quique Sanchez Flores(2016)
There is something really amazing about this man. And not just because his coats seem to have been tailored by the fashion gods themselves or his shrubby beard that have my female friends asking when Watford are playing next or if Watford are on Instagram.
A brief look at your Wikipedia informs you that during his playing days, Flores plied his trade as a Right Back. He had spells with Valencia, Getafe and Real Madrid. He also made 39 Appearances for the Spanish National team. He started his managerial career in 2001 with the Madrid Youth Team. He returned to manage Valencia and achieved a champions league place only to be ousted by Chelsea in the quarter final. In the 2009-2010 season, he won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid beating Fulham.
On the 5th of June 2015, it was announced that Flores would replace Jokanovic. There was nothing reassuring about this position. He was the 5th coach in 12 months meaning his main duty was watching his back.
In a recent interview after their historic FA cup win against Arsenal, club Captain Troy Deeney stated that Leicester’s fairy tale was taking the shine off the 50 year old Spaniard. Looking at the facts, the club Captain got it spot on.
First off, Flores is not your typical small club manager. He won six cup competitions in his first 11 years as a first team manager and this includes two European trophies: The Europa League and the Super Cup. This speaks volumes about his style of play and his ambition for success.
However the Watford job was not going to be a walkabout. Most people had already elected the Hornets as prime relegation candidates before they had even kicked a ball!! By virtue of the fact that The Cherries had piped them to top spot in the championship, they were deemed not good enough. Their return to top flight football after 8 years was expected to be one full of struggle. However Watford have silenced critics.
Most new comers in the league tend to get their squad depth wrong and when the injuries come knocking, they get overwhelmed. Alternatively, clubs recruit too many players and what you have is team full of nonsense. So in essence you had a decent squad depth teeming with mediocrity. Case in point Newcastle. Mitrovic and Co. Have wasted our time in the league. This is what it looked like when Watford had 16 signings brought in during the summer transfer Window. In total, the team had about twenty different nationalities!! Christ how was that ever going to work?
Flores’ first cause of action was settling down the team and make them play the kind of football that got them here. Watford’s brightest month in 2015 was December when they managed three wins and one loss. This was enough to earn the Spaniard his maiden MOTM award. Odion Ighalo also scored 5 goals that month to ensure he clinched the POTM award and grant Watford a deserved double.
In a team where Flores has put the team’s position down to teamwork and hardwork, Ighalo has to be the star turn in the team. 14 goals in his first 18 starts shows his importance to the team. He also scored a total 30 goals in 2015; more than any player in England’s top four tiers of football to cap off the year in style. His pace and power is a nightmare for defenders in the league and I think the sight and sound of the Hornets’ fans signing “you’re indestructible.” is a fitting tribute for the Nigerian born forward.
He has also forged a decent strike partnership with Troy Deeney. The English forward has contributed 8 assists this season and the pair have contributed 23 of Watford’s 29 goals in the league further showing the chemistry the pair have.
However Watford should not lose sight of the Premier League race. They are currently on 14th place with 10 wins, 7 draws and 12 losses hence 37 points. 40 points has always been termed by most managers as the magical number as regards Premier League survival. If this is the case, then Watford are 3 points away from safety. If they keep doing what they are doing, survival is essentially guaranteed.
Watford may have a – 1 goal difference but they have been quite decent this season. Gomes is on 10 cleansheets and only three away from Joe Hart. Watford have also conceded 10 goals in 2016 which is the fourth best in the league. Watford need to maintain their shape in terms of tucking in deep when out of possession and being clinical on the counter. Just ask Arsenal. Ighalo’s opener came with the game’s first shot on target: Ruthless.
Back to the magical man. He has to be credited with all Watford have achieved. When they endured that sticky run and in particular Ighalo’s goal drought, the manager remained defiant even when the players had their shoulders hunched. He stuck with his team and tactics and that got them back on track. I believe the most difficult thing about being the gaffer is being optimistic no matter what. You are the only one not allowed to slouch when your team is going on a nine match winless run. How do you get such players up every morning? Remi Garde is certainly not doing it right. Some tuition perhaps Remi?
I can help with that
Flores has the cheeky tendency to keep opponents guessing about his formation. He is very adventurous especially his selection in wide areas. According to fourfourtwo.Com, Flores deployed 7 different wing partnerships in the first 16 PL matches. Looking at some of the results they pulled, you have to wonder how they pulled it off. At first glance most people will put it down on luck but this is where we go back to the importance of meaningful recruitment and the manager having a say on things. The rotation can only be possible because players such as Anya, Paredes, Ake and Jurado can operate in more than one position. It also depends on the opponent they are facing and the form of the players. Flores has never been fazed by big players and he will put you in your place in an instant.
Flores is also very passionate and this gives his players confidence. Having had such a rich football background, it’s not surprising to know where he picked it from. He demands Alot from his players as he knows their potential.
PL fans have also been treated to the image of Flores standing on the touchline keenly following proceedings. It’s possible to count the number of times he is seated down because he rarely does and this keeps the players on their feet(pun intended). He tailors a calm look but will bark orders and reprimand his players; needs must. After games, he casually strolls onto the pitch to acknowledge respect to the opposition, celebrate with his players and applaud the fans. It’s the little things.
It’s Watford’s first semi in nine years. Whatever happens, Flores has had a satisfactory season and with survival about to be confirmed, having him in the league next season will only increase the excitement. He’s young yet meticulous, respectful yet demanding, withdrawn yet involved, Calm yet catalytic.
Cool as ice
Another decent season and surely other clubs will come knocking.
After the Emirates win, he stated that his luck in cup competitions is not so bad. “I have been in six finals and I have won five.” Not debatable but with the FA you have to get to the finals first. All in all Quique Sanchez Flores is one of the brightest stars as regards the new breed of young managers.
felicitaciones and buena suerte senor.