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Quique holds his hands up after comprehensive Southampton defeat

Quique Sanchez Flores issued an apology to the supporters for tonight’s poor showing at Southampton and said he would have substituted all ten of his outfield players, and himself, had he been able to.

Watford’s third straight Premier League defeat was the most disappointing of the lot to the head coach but he was phlegmatic enough to know all teams, even the fine ones he has coached at Valencia and Atletico Madrid, have off days.

“I am not angry, just disappointed,” he said. “We made mistakes but they played much better than us. We play in an unusual way for the first time this season. This was the first time an opponent was much better than us. It is the first time we have had this feeling. This is football. Sometimes this happens. Our spirit is usually very high and energetic but today we didn’t find this spirit.”

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The head coach made a point of going up to the away fans who braved the inclement weather to support their team this evening, unlike some of his players who clapped half-heartedly from halfway before heading down the tunnel.

“I apologise to the fans,” he said, unprompted. “The players need my support and the support of the fans more than ever now. We will learn for the future. We know how difficult the Premier League is if we don’t find our level.”

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Paul Walsh, the former Luton and Liverpool forward, said on Sky Sports’ Soccer Special tonight that “Watford will be in the relegation battle if they play like that too often. They had a lack of energy, were too casual at the back, cocky almost arrogant. They produced nothing in front of goal, Ighalo and Deeney were non-existent and it was a well-deserved win for Southampton.”

Sanchez Flores offered a degree of perspective when he pointed out that this Southampton side put four unanswered goals past Arsenal over Christmas.

“Today is a bad feeling for everyone but this is the first time in 22 games,” he said.

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It was not the first time, however, that Sanchez Flores has made some strange substitutions. He brought on Victor Ibarbo, who he said a fortnight ago is not part of his plans, for Allan Nyom and replaced Miguel Britos with Craig Cathcart. Valon Behrami and Adlene Guedioura, meanwhile, were left kicking their heels on the bench.

“We needed more energy on the right, like a winger like Anya,” he explained. “The second one, we needed more deeper, vertical runs [so I introduced Ibarbo]. Britos has a little bit of physical troubles so we need to change him [with Cathcart]. But if I could change every single player, including the coach, I would.”