Quique Sanchez Flores says players being discontented over a lack of playing time and their deployment this season is an inevitable consequence of modern-day football.
Sanchez Flores has had a difficult balancing act on his hands to try and keep 25 players content throughout the campaign, although 19 of the submitted squad have at least had one start. It was almost inevitable a few would become frustrated as seven would always be left watching from the stands or at home on a matchday. A major bone of contention, particularly this year, has been the lack of reasoning or logic behind his squad selection.
Jose Holebas, for example, was left out for the following game against Tottenham after twice impressing against Chelsea. Ikechi Anya, meanwhile, was axed from the matchday squad against Everton after 17 minutes as a substitute against Arsenal. Adlene Guedioura started against Arsenal in the cup when you least expected him to, but was then unexpectedly back on the bench the following week and again for the league game at Arsenal. Troy Deeney spoke of his frustration at being shunted out on the right against Bournemouth in front of the watching England manager while creative talents like Almen Abdi and Jose Manuel Jurado could justifiably take umbrage at being asked to play as wide men nearly all season with significant defensive responsibilities.
Publicly, Holebas and Behrami have taken veiled digs at the Spaniard via social media this season while Steven Berghuis, in an interview with a Dutch radio station this week, admitted he is disappointed to have only featured eight times for the Hornets’ first-team since his move from AZ Alkmaar last summer.
“I understand completely some players are not happy when they don’t play but it’s impossible for every player to play,” Sanchez Flores said. “They are professionals. They have all played in big matches in their careers and they know I can only choose 11 players. They know that perfectly.”
Although players invariably become better when they out of a losing side, Behrami should have started at Wembley in the semi-final. Yet the Switzerland international knew the writing was on the wall when he was named as a substitute at West Bromwich Albion and then played the full 90 minutes against West Ham United just days before the cup semi-final. Sanchez Flores explained the omission of Behrami by saying he already had one defensive midfielder in the side. However, Behrami was outstanding at Arsenal in the previous round alongside Ben Watson and arguably had his best league game against Palace at Selhurst Park.
“Behrami brings us balance and experience but we had Watson as the defensive player and [Etienne] Capoue as the offensive player,” said Sanchez Flores.
It was noticeable how Behrami did not even warm up when Capoue went down on the half-hour mark.
“When Capoue got injured, we needed an offensive player because we were losing,” said the head coach. “So we chose to bring on Mario [Suarez]. Behrami is ready to play at any time but we must think about keeping a balance between the offensive players and the defensive players.”