Quique Sanchez Flores has underlined the value of Miguel Britos to Watford’s defence which is among the meanest in the Premier League.
A combination of a suspension and the form of Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prodl meant it took Britos until the tenth league game of the season to get his chance but he’s not looked back since. He’s now one of the first names on the teamsheet. Watford have conceded 17 goals in the 17 games the Uruguayan has played.
“The personality of Britos is very important to us,” said Sanchez Flores when asked by us yesterday about the value of the defender. “He’s very strong and has a lot of experience. I feel when he’s on the pitch the concentration is very nice.”
Sanchez Flores sought the advice of Raul Albiol, who he coached at Valencia and who played with Britos at Napoli, when Gino Pozzo told him there was a chance they could land Britos in a swap deal that involved Allan moving from Udinese to Napoli. Sanchez Flores must have wondered if Albiol had given him duff information when Britos was sent off at Preston North End on his debut but even at Deepdale the 30-year-old showed glimpses of the cultured aspect of his game.
“It’s exactly what Albiol told me,” said Sanchez Flores. “I have a lot of confidence with Albiol. He told me he’s a very good player, that I need to push him to get out everything he has inside. He’s a very good player.”
Isn’t he just. Britos’ transition from Serie A to the helter skelter world of the Premier League has been even more impressive given the fact he missed pre-season with Watford. It was there, on the fields in Germany and back at London Colney, that Sanchez Flores built the defensive platform on which Watford have launched their Premier League survival bid. Twelve clean sheets in 30 games is testament to the defensive drills the head coach implemented during those summer months.
“We worked on defence since pre-season,” he said. “We want to attack well and we feel good in defence. We try to reduce the possibilities of the opponent. We control situations but to do it always is difficult.”
A right-back of some repute with Real Madrid and Spain, Sanchez Flores was keen to build the foundations of his new Watford house before deciding on the decor.
“Our philosophy is, first, work on the defence then we decide when to attack,” he explained. “We don’t separate defence and attack – we are a team playing as a pack, sometimes deep, sometimes high but always together. We always try to control the transections and this is important in English football. If not, the play is very stretched. I am happy completely with all defenders. They understand very well what is the dynamic, including players coming in in the last weeks in Paredes and Holebas.”