Quique Sanchez Flores thinks that Steven Berghuis has finally adapted to English football and is now ‘ready’ to be involved in the first-team squad, nine months after joining the club.
The Dutch winger got the chance to finally show what he can do on the Premier League stage after being brought on for the last 35 minutes of Watford’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham at the Boleyn Ground. This was his first taste of Premier League action since his late cameo against Arsenal at Vicarage Road in October. As integration processes go, Berghuis’ has got to be one of the longest in football.
“He played really well and has trained really well,” Sanchez Flores said. “It was a good moment for us to try him in the squad. He is a very good player who has taken time to adapt to the team and the league. But now he is ready and can play in every single game.”
That will be music to the ears of Berghuis who had played just 86 league minutes all season. In fact, he’d only been named on the bench three times since Christmas, away at Chelsea, away at Arsenal and away at West Bromwich Albion. The £4.5m signing from AZ Alkmaar would have been hoping for a start last night, especially with the pressure off and a semi-final on the horizon for the regulars, but he had to be content with a 65th-minute introduction. He looked lively, seeking the ball at every opportunity and registering his first assist for the club when his free-kick was swept home by Sebastien Prodl in the second half.
“This is what I came to England and to Watford for, and I feel good after this game,” Berghuis told Hornets Player. “From a team point of view it was a disappointing evening, West Ham of course is a good team but to be 3-0 down after 50 or 60 minutes is not good. The goal helped us, it gave us a little bit of extra energy. The fans believed and we believed, and if the 3-2 had come straight after maybe we could have drawn. Ikechi [Anya] also came on and we had some pace on the sides. I tried to get on the ball in between the lines and find him behind the defence, and it worked well a few times. We played a little bit more in the opponent’s half and with Ikechi, me, [Troy] Deeney and [Nordin] Amrabat we were dangerous. An assist is an assist, but the finish from Sebastian made it an assist so I thanked him for the great goal.”
Mario Suarez, who has played with many high-calibre attacking midfielders during his spells with Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina, rates Berghuis as a bright talent.
“He played very well tonight and he has a lot of quality,” Suarez said. “Berghuis is still a young player but he put in a very good performance tonight.”
The fans felt Berghuis’ cameo was the big plus point to emerge from defeat at Upton Park.
- Additional reporting by Adam Newson