Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores insisted he is still focusing on Premier League survival despite Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace seeing his side surge up to eighth in the table.
Two goals from Troy Deeney helped the visitors to victory Selhurst Park, moving Flores’ side onto an impressive tally of 36 points on their return to the top flight, just five short of Manchester United in fifth.
While there remains a distinct possibility that Flores’ men could qualify for Europe, the Vicarage Road boss is more concerned with reaching the 40-point mark – traditionally the figure needed to guarantee safety.
“The win is very important for us because it means we are very close to our target, to keep in the Premier League for next year, to keep Watford growing up in the future,” he said.
“I’m very happy with the performance of the players, I’m very happy in the way we got the result. It’s very difficult to win here in this stadium against this opponent with this coach.
“They wanted to change [their recent results] for a good run. We didn’t permit the change and we won – that is very important for us.”
Deeney’s goals were his first in the Premier League since Boxing Day and Flores was thrilled to see Watford’s captain back on the scoresheet.
“He always is really positive and he’s a really important player for us, for the system. He represents the values of Watford very well,” continued the former Atletico Madrid boss.
“He knows everything about Watford’s history, he’s played in every category of the leagues and for strikers it’s always very important to score.
“I think he has an amazing personality. He is always ready for everything. He’s not just one striker for us; he started the season for us as a striker, then the second striker, now an assistant.”
Flores also reiterated his belief that Deeney would make a smooth transition into international football, saying: “I said this week in a press conference that this kind of player can combine with anyone – with [Harry] Kane, with [Jamie] Vardy, with any of the players.
“I want to stop to talking about that, though, because I am not the manager of the national team.”
Emmanuel Adebayor – a player Watford were interested in signing in January – netted his first goal for Palace against the Hornets but Flores was pleased with the way his defence handled the ex-Real Madrid striker.
“He’s a very good player and probably he wanted to show everyone he deserves to play at the best level because he’s an amazing player, but we stopped him well,” he said.
“When we defended a little bit deep, because Crystal Palace pushed us more, Adebayor was a little closer to the box but generally I think we defended very well [against him].”
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