Quique Sanchez Flores has played down Jose Holebas’ weekend outburst on social media and claimed his plan was to always rotate his Watford left-backs during a period of three Premier League matches in seven days.
After being left unused on the bench for the third successive league game on Saturday, Holebas posted this on Instagram:
The post was subsequently removed, whether due to a change of heart on behalf of the player or because Holebas was instructed by club officials to take it down. He had already been reminded about the club’s social media protocol after posting a picture on the same social networking site of him receiving treatment at London Colney on the day of the Swansea City away game. The post gave Swansea the heads up that it would be Nathan Ake playing at left-back at the Liberty Stadium.
“I don’t follow the social network but the social network is for that, for players to express how they are feeling,” said Sanchez Flores when asked about the post after the Bournemouth game. “Maybe this is some instant message and then he is thinking differently. The mood of the players changes if they are playing or not.”
Holebas’ mood was not influenced by whether he was playing or not before Ake arrived – the word from the training ground was that he was in a permanent state of surliness and was picking fault with his teammates and the infrastructure. He dramatically changed his tune – Holebas bought into the fact “we are a family, we are a collective target and the most important thing is the pack, the group,” said Sanchez Flores previously – and was exceptional in both games against Chelsea and in the FA Cup fifth-round win over Leeds United.
“I think he’s playing matches in the last month,” said Sanchez Flores. “The situation three months ago was that Ake is in the first XI. Holebas was not exactly in the team. Now, in the last month and a half, Ake and Holebas mix a lot. I don’t know how many matches, but I am mixing a lot. Holebas is playing a lot and we need to consider we are playing three matches in seven days. These three matches, two of them they are against two of the best physical teams in Bournemouth and Leicester. We need to expend a lot of energy and reserve a lot of energy. Holebas is important and we are really happy with performance of the two left backs.”
If he sees Holebas featuring in his long-term plans, Sanchez Flores needs to keep the summer signing from Roma onside as the club are resigned to Chelsea retaining Ake next season. According to reports, the club have already starting preparing for life after Ake by enquiring about Rapid Vienna’s Stefan Stangl.