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Quique labels Jurado “a special player” as doubters and critics remain

Quique Sanchez Flores has outlined the contribution and value of Jose Manuel Jurado to this Watford side in another week where the Spanish playmaker continues to polarise opinion.

Apart from Gavin Mahon and Craig Ramage is it difficult to recall a Watford player who, in recent memory, has prompted reaction and opinion from complete opposite ends of the spectrum. The Spaniard is the cover feature of the matchday programme tomorrow and if you take social media as a reliable barometer, you’d expect some fans not to buy it or some to buy it and pin it on their dartboard. Don’t take our word for it, see these two tweets for evidence:

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Jurado enjoyed Watford’s most attempts on goal against Swansea on Monday night and looked the team’s most likely source of a route back into the game. He was also the first Watford player in the referee’s notebook, his tackle on Wayne Routledge providing counter evidence for those who feel he does not pull his weight.

“I like that he shoots and that he creates attempts,” said Sanchez Flores after Monday’s game at the Liberty Stadium. “I need vertical [runs] from my wingers and he was vertical in the second half and he shot four or five times. This is what we want from the wingers.”

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Jurado has been the victim of the failure of Victor Ibarbo and Steven Berghuis, two out and out wingers, to deliver what the recruitment team thought they would when recruited in the summer. Jurado and Almen Abdi have therefore been played out of position and asked to do duties otherwise alien to them. Both players are suited to more central roles and would benefit from flying wingers or forwards to be able to pick out with slide-rule passes. They have scored one goal between them and two assists, depending whether your glass is half full or half empty and you include the one for Odion Ighalo’s chalked off goal against Chelsea. Abdi and Jurado have played in similar positions, either side of Troy Deeney, so their statistics make for interesting comparison:

Appearances:
Jurado: 16
Abdi: 19

Goals (assists in brackets)
Jurado: 0 (2)
Abdi: 1 (0)

Pass accuracy
Jurado: 83 per cent
Abdi: 84 per cent

Average pass length (in metres)
Jurado: 15m
Abdi: 16m

Chances created
Jurado: 21
Abdi: 28

Shot accuracy
Jurado: 22 per cent
Abdi: 47 per cent

Defensive errors
Jurado: Two
Abdi: Two

*Stats via Squawka

Sanchez Flores coached Jurado on the way to Atletico Madrid’s Europa League success in 2010 and the sale of him to Schalke soon after was the beginning of the end of Sanchez Flores’ time at the Vicente Calderon. The head coach has been around long enough to sometimes look beyond the statistics and trust what he sees with the naked eye.

“He’s a special player,” Sanchez Flores said this morning. “With the ball he is amazing. If we want to play better with the ball and have more possession, also in transition when we want the other team to transfer to the other part of the pitch, he is very important. He has very good numbers. It is not just about the statistics.”

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Picture (plus main) by Paul Dawson

The head coach has built up a rapport, a real bond with the Watford fans and said once he would like to jump into the crowd and hug everyone singing his catchy song. He’s not about to start bemoaning those who do not appreciate a clever, intelligent player who who has played for Spain Under-21s, Real Madrid, Atletico, Schalke and Spartak Moscow.

“The taste of the fans is very particular,” he said. “Some fans like and others not so much. I respect a lot the fans.”