Troy Deeney revealed Quique Sanchez Flores broke the news to him that he was relegated to the bench against Tottenham Hotspur in private and that he didn’t agree with the decision.
The 19-man matchday squad is printed out and taped to a wall in the changing facility at UCL in London Colney the day before a game and then the head coach typically names the XI on the day of the game. However, Sanchez Flores broke with tradition and told Deeney the day before the Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane he would not be starting.
“What do you think?” said the captain when asked after Saturday’s two-goal performance how he felt about last week’s shock decision. “I’m annoyed, I’m a football player and my job is to play football. I wasn’t happy for ten minutes last week when I got told, but then it’s back to being the captain and supporting the lads. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, it was great sitting on the bench’ because that’s not me. I was on the bench, I wasn’t happy, I trained a bit aggressively this week and thankfully it’s come off.”
We should add that there was no anger towards the head coach or bitterness in Deeney’s voice. He was just shooting straight from the hip when speaking to the media after the win at Palace yesterday.
It is unclear exactly when Sanchez Flores told Deeney he was to be among the substitutes for the first time in nearly a year but we were at London Colney on the Friday before the Spurs game and Deeney sped into training in a Range Rover and had a face like thunder when he got out of his car.
“He pulled me,” said Deeney. “He showed me the respect [and told me] before the other lads came in. He didn’t have to do that. That shows the mark of the manager we have. If I play s***, I’m not going to play. Simple as that. If my level dropped, or the gaffer thought I was a little bit tired, it’s his decision and he has every reason to change me. He looks like a tactical genius now as I scored two.”
Deeney is close friends with Rene Gilmartin from their days together at Walsall. They, among other things, went to watch Anthony Joshua fight at the O2 in September.
“I spoke to Troy in the week,” said Gilmartin in his role as co-commentator on BBC 3 Counties radio yesterday. “Yes, he was a bit injured but he was annoyed at not playing [against Spurs]. His celebration said there, ‘I should be starting every game as this is what I give you’.
“I agree [he has to start],” he added later on. “But he does so much work there is such a thing as tiredness. If he pulls his hamstring he could be out for four weeks. He carried this team today.”
- Additional reporting by David Anderson