Thursday, June 21, 2018

Watford’s good campaign has gone largely under the radar

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has done a very good job in his debut campaign as Hornets boss

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has done a very good job in his debut campaign as Hornets boss

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino are likely to be the front runners for Premier League Manager of the Year

However, there is another boss in the English top-flight who has also done a fine job with his club this season. That boss is Watford’s Quique Sanchez Flores.

Watford face league leaders Leicester later today at Vicarage Road and a victory would guarantee Premier League football for next season. The Spaniard and his team have performed admirably this season.

Brought calm to mayhem

Watford had become the laughing stock of the football world, because of the number of different bosses they had had in the 18 months prior to Sanchez Flores’ appointment.

Slavisa Jokanovic guided the Hornets to promotion last season, only for his short-term contract not to be renewed, following some sort of disagreement with the clubs hierarchy.

They needed somebody who would come in and bring calm to the club and team and Quique Sanchez Flores has done that superbly.

Judging by interviews with the Watford players, Flores is a very calm and centred guy, which has no doubt helped settle such an erratic club in recent years.

The fact that he brought in over a dozen players and the team has played so well this season is a testament to Flores and his managerial skills.

From relegation favourites to midtable

At no point in the current campaign have Watford even looked like they are about to flirt with a relegation battle. The Hornets are currently 12th in the table on 37 points and will comfortably survive the drop this season.

Their good campaign has belied the fact that they were one of the favourites to be relegated this season following their promotion. The massive changes in playing personnel and another change in boss made the Hornets look a likely relegation candidate.

However, a number of the players that were the key to the Hornets promotion last season have been key to their solid performances in the current campaign.

Much-maligned Brazilian ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes was superb in their promotion campaign and despite his often unconventional style has very solid on his return to the top-flight. Players like Craig Cathcart, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have all been highly consistent for the Hornets in both the Championship and Premier League.

Other players have been brought in to compliment those players, but the aforementioned players have given the team stability in the last few seasons. The fact that Watford have the fifth best defence in the top-flight points to Flores’ organisational skills and his teams sheer hard work.

Second season is crucial

The Hornets are now odds of 250/1 to be relegated from the Premier League. Not bad considering they were at one stage of pre-season second favourites to go down this season behind fellow new boys Bournemouth.

Hopefully Quique Sanchez Flores hangs around at Vicarage Road. The big works starts in the summer for the former-Valencia boss. He will be keen to avoid second season syndrome. Promoted teams often take opponents by surprise in their first campaign in the top-flight.

That can lead to teams overachieving, but Watford does seem to have a core quality in their team and they deserve their midtable comfort at the moment.

Flores may have a problem in keeping hold of some of his star players though, with the likes of Troy Deeney and top scorer Odion Ighalo linked with summer moves away from the Hertfordshire club.

Losing either of those would be a massive blow to the Hornets, as the only criticism that could be laid at the Hornets door this season is that they have not scored enough goals. The strike-partnership of Deeney and Ighalo has scored the majority of their top-flight goals this season.

In fact between them, the pair has scored 23 of Watford’s 29 Premier League goals this season. No doubt that will be something that Flores’ will look to improve next season and he will be looking at how to add goals to his team from other areas of the pitch.

However, for now Hornets fans can enjoy the rest of the campaign safe in the knowledge that their team will be playing Premier League football next season.

This summer promises major financial cash payments for top-flight clubs and no doubt boss Quique Sanchez Flores will use his transfer kitty to good effect this summer. The Hornets have made a decent start to life back in the top-flight, but some back even stronger next season.

Should Watford get more credit for their solid Premier League campaign?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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