Jose Manuel Jurado received a standing ovation when he was substituted after 80 minutes this evening, a sure sign he is continuing to convert more of his detractors by the game.
The Spaniard was Watford’s creative hub against Manchester City, gliding in off the left flank to link the play and play clever intricate and reverse passes. It is not an exaggeration to say he was the most inventive player on the field in the first half, some statement when you consider David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure were among the opposition. He dovetailed beautifully with Etienne Capoue on several occasions and outfoxed Toure and De Bruyne with two deft pieces of skill.
“Jurado is a very big difference for us since the beginning,” Sanchez Flores said. “He is a very important player for us. If we want to take the ball Jurado is important, if we want to make a quick transition from defence to attack Jurado is very important. They work a lot [Jurado and Almen Abdi] in offensive and defensive and sometimes they need to take a breath.”
It was from Jurado’s slide-rule pass that Odion Ighalo harried Eliaquim Mangala into conceding a soft corner, one Ben Watson swung into the back of Joe Hart’s net via a deflection. It would be stretching matters to say Jurado’s departure ten minutes from time cost Watford the game but the team did miss his ability to keep possession and take the sting out of City’s attacks.
“It is difficult to dominate against Manchester City,” said Sanchez Flores. “It is difficult to control the ball, the attack, the tempo but today we did. We were able to control the space, we played really well with the ball, we create attempts and it was very similar in the last game against Tottenham. We had the opportunity to score again, but it is difficult to explain to the players what happened. We can improve, but it is difficult to explain. One cross, one set piece.”
Aguero scored 23 times in 36 games under Sanchez Flores in their last season together at Atletico Madrid. His goal here showed why City paid so much to take him from the Vicente Calderon and why you can’t take your eye off him for a second.
“It is not an amazing challenge to stop Aguero,” said the head coach. “If you compare our match against Manchester City four months ago it was completely different. We play as a small team, we set up to avoid kicks and goals, amazing defence. Today, since the start of the match we played to win. Until the final moment we have the possibility to do that. I’m so sorry for the players, I’m so sorry for the fans, but we want to win. It is not enough to be competitive and be in the middle of the league. We have a lot of reasons to be happy but today we are sad.”