Quique Sanchez Flores does not like to be reminded but he’s been here before, only once mind you. Shortly after the turn of the year in La Liga in 2011 he lost four league games on the spin.
Atletico Madrid lost 1-0 to Sporting Gijon, 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao, 3-0 against Barcelona and 2-0 against Sanchez Flores’ former club Valencia.
“Of course,” Sanchez Flores said when asked if he remembered that spell, five years ago. He reeled the scorelines off as if he had some kind of photographic memory. He clearly remembers the lows as well as the highs. It’s an experience he will draw on when trying to drag his Watford team out of this mini slump in the same period of the season.
“We recovered the players and kept the mentality,” he said when asked how he navigated Los Colchoneros through that tricky period at the Vicente Calderon. “It’s football. I live a lot of similar situations but the most important thing is not to change.”
The moral of the story is that you can experience a bad run at anytime, even when you have players in the side of the calibre of David De Gea, Filipe Luis, Tiago, Jose Antonio Reyes, Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, with Diego Costa on the bench.
Atletico recovered from that four-game losing streak (five if you include a cup defeat to Real Madrid) to embark on a five-match unbeaten run.
Sanchez Flores felt Watford were still experiencing a hangover from the defeat at Southampton when they played Swansea on Monday. He’s been stressing the importance of starting with a clean slate this week.
“The most important thing is we separate what happens in one match,” he said. “We have the facility to separate the feelings. We were on a very good run, with four consecutive wins. We knew one day maybe this can change, as we are Watford, we have just been promoted and the Premier League is tough. We are in a bad run and we recognise this. In one match and a half [at Southampton and the first half against Swansea] we lose the feeling [we have had]. We are training with the same rules, the same spirit and now we want to transmit to Vicarage Road we have the same ambition. The win is coming. I cannot guarantee when but we will win again. It is near.”
Sanchez Flores made special provisions for Jon-Jo Shelvey the last time the England midfielder played at Vicarage Road, asking Troy Deeney to mark him when Swansea had possession of the ball during the game in early September. Shelvey will return with his new club this afternoon in what will be a fascinating tactical battle.
“They have very good players,” said Watford’s head coach. “We analyse them a lot. They sign Shelvey now and this is the main player they need in the midfield. They now have a lot of possibilities.”