Watford fans came to celebrate the arrival of a new player from Spain but left saluting the return to form of their bargain buy from Spain and another player born there.
Fans got a glimpse of Nordin Amrabat, the club record buy from Malaga, in injury time but it was Ighalo, a signing from Granada in the summer of 2014, who scored one and made the other while Jose Manuel Jurado pulled the strings as Watford recorded a morale-enhancing win over Newcastle United this afternoon.
“I’m really happy with the victory, with the performance of the players and am happy we recuperate our soul and ambition,” said Sanchez Flores. “It is difficult to win three times against the same team and we did it. The players were a bit down so today was important. We recuperated a lot of good habits and we are now in the top half. We have a lot of reasons to be happy and to enjoy.”
Ighalo was horribly out of sorts against Southampton and Swansea, carrying the appearance of someone who had let the speculation go to his head, but he was back on it here, coolly converting his 14th of the season and teeing up the crucial second for Craig Cathcart.
“It was important I talked with Ighalo because we needed him,” said the head coach. “He came back today with the rest of the team. Everything he did before was high at maximum level and sometimes you can go down, mentality and physically and take bad decisions. I try to tell Ighalo there is no pressure and it is impossible to play to a high level every week.”
The arch alchemist, Sanchez Flores tweaked the formation slightly, asking Jurado to play off Ighalo with Troy Deeney. It worked a treat with Jurado winning the sponsor’s man of the match award.
“We need to do something after after four losses,” said Sanchez Flores. “We need to do something different. I need to transmit a different message to the players because it was important we changed things. We play 4-2-3-1 with Jurado and Deeney at the back of Ighalo. It worked well and we created troubles for Newcastle. When you are a winger you have to cover back. Here Jurado is a little bit more free as we have Behrami to cover this [defensive] position as he is quick.”
Juan Carlos Paredes is no slouch and he justified the head coach’s bold but justified call to bring him in for Allan Nyom.
“This was an amazing message for rest of the squad,” said Sanchez Flores. “When players train well I can choose any player for the first XI. I am happy for Paredes today. He responded perfectly. He understood very well what we need. I was really pleased with him. It was perfect for us.”
*Additional reporting by Charlie Doris.