When Quique Sanchez Flores first discussed possible transfer targets with Gino Pozzo this summer, one of the first names on his list was that of Jose Manuel Jurado. After watching the Spanish maestro make his first outing for Watford in Scotland today, the coach is now more certain than ever he has a player he can build a successful team around.
Jurado, who joined the Hornets from Spartak Moscow earlier this week, lined up against Dundee United today on the left side of midfield, but showed versatility by occasionally switching to the right and moving central during the second half. It was the first time he had worked with compatriot Sanchez Flores since August 2010, when he netted for Atletico Madrid in a win over Sporting Gijon, before departing for Schalke the following day.
“He is a good player,” Sanchez Flores said, smiling broadly at the mention of Jurado’s name. “He is the same player I left at Atletico Madrid when I finished my contract there — the same player, only with more experience and more respect to control the play. He will be very important for us.”
At Tannadice Park, the former Real Madrid man displayed great vision with a number of defence-splitting passes to release both Ikechi Anya and Odion Ighalo. Yet the best chance to open the scoring fell to Jurado himself. Troy Deeney held the ball up well, fed Anya out wide and the Scotsman fizzed a ball across the box, which Jurado knocked narrowly wide of the post.
In the second half, the 29 year-old showed his eye for goal again when he forced the opposition goalkeeper to tip his rasping, long-range drive wide.
“We need time in the other parts of the pitch and we need time to gel, but he is the kind of player who can find the pass for Ighalo or [Matej] Vydra or Deeney. There is high-quality always around Jurado, with Jurado, near Jurado. Of course, players like [Almen] Adbi, like [Etienne] Capoue, the players we have in the squad, they will gel with him in a good way.”
Jurado is clearly ready to hit the ground running. The Russian league started last week, so the Spaniard is already seven weeks into pre-season and his performance proved a starting berth at Everton on August 8 is a certainty. After seeing him complete 90 minutes today, Sanchez Flores could hardly be happier.
“Since the beginning, since maybe two months ago when I started talking with Mr Pozzo, we had one thing very clear and important – the names of the players who are coming,” he said. “Yes, they knew the player, but of course sometimes some players are recommended by the staff. When the player is on the list it is because everyone is in agreement.”
The overall performance also was cause for positivity, said Sanchez Flores. With two successive clean sheets and an obvious fluidity in the middle of the field, progress is being made.
“I am very happy because we proposed before the game to repeat good habits and do everything well, try to attack knowing the parts of the pitch where we can take risks,” he said. “The balance is really good and we are on the way. We made a few mistakes, but in attack I liked what I saw because we play with confidence. The ball is safe at the feet of the players and this is the way forward.”
With Steven Berghuis set to become the Hornets’ 10th summer signing there is obvious concern among fans that the squad might struggle to gel. The coaching team have no such worries and are confident the players that have been brought in are of the right characteristics mentally to adapt quickly.
“For me, gelling is very important, but it is not a problem,” said Sanchez Flores. “The players are excellent people as well as players and they are creating a great atmosphere and also making friends with each other.”
Meantime, Miguel Britos, the Uruguayan defender who is suspended for the first two games of the season as we highlighted three days ago, did not travel to Scotland because of administrative paperwork that has yet to be completed.