Quique Sanchez Flores says it was his mistake which led to Etienne Capoue being hauled off after 40 minutes of Watford’s defeat to Arsenal while Odion Ighalo was substituted at half-time due to tiredness.
The Hornets were comprehensively beaten 4-0 at the Emirates stadium this afternoon, with two of their stand-out performers from the first half of the season brought off by the interval.
Capoue was played on the left of a midfield four and his only involvement in the game was to lose Alexis Sanchez in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal. He was replaced by Ikechi Anya with five minutes of the first half remaining.
“When I have to make a substitution before half time the first thing to reflect on is whether it’s the fault of the head coach,” said Sanchez Flores. “Maybe today I made a mistake and if I think I made a mistake I correct it as quickly as possible. I don’t need to wait until half time. When I don’t believe in something or I think I have some errors I try to fix them as soon as possible.”
Capoue jogged straight down the tunnel after being brought off. Ighalo would follow five minutes later at the end of the half but didn’t return for the second period. Nordin Amrabat was introduced in his place. It was only the fifth and sixth time this season Sanchez Flores had made a substitution at half-time or before.
“Ighalo is completely tired,” Sanchez Flores said. “He only trained yesterday [after coming back from international duty with Nigeria]. He travelled and his flight was Thursday so he could play 45 minutes.”
Sanchez Flores has proven he isn’t afraid to make big and bold calls. He recalled Jose Holebas from the wilderness to play against Chelsea on Boxing Day before leaving Troy Deeney on the bench against Tottenham Hotspur in February. He therefore wouldn’t have thought twice about dragging two of the key players.
“They are both professionals,” he said. “They understand that if they’re not playing, then another of their teammates is. I don’t ask the players when I substitute them if they are angry or not. It’s part of football. Sometimes they will play, sometimes they won’t play, sometimes they will be a substitute and sometimes they will be out of the list. If you’re angry try and recuperate your level as soon as possible.
“If I have to explain to the substitutes then I would have to do it every weekend. I would have to explain why I start players, why other players are on the bench and why other players are off the list. This is not the right way.”
How the fans reacted to Capoue being dragged before the break: