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‘Watford worried about trajectory under Quique Sanchez Flores’

Watford have employed six head coaches since the Pozzos whirled into Vicarage Road and implemented their successful model of running a football club.

Five of the six changes occurred while the team was in the second tier of English football, away from the intensely scrutinised world of the Premier League. The landscape changes drastically when you are operating in the most watched league in the world, so the club know they can expect plenty of column inches and discussions on TV and radio shows over the decision, however carefully thought out it has been, to replace Quique Sanchez Flores in the summer.

Here is a flavour of what has been said over the past seven days:

“Clubs have to be very careful what they wish for. Watford have come a long way and they are sustaining Premier League football. Changing could destabilise that. But he can’t be too disgruntled at the question. He’s had eight clubs in 11 years so he’s not someone who sticks around anyway. I’m surprised he’s not used to it [questions about his future].”
Rio Ferdinand, BT Sport
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“The central point here is how many points they won in the first half of the season and how much they have tailed off? History tells you, when you look at other clubs who have done the same, that the trajectory will continue which is why Watford are worried about what is happening. And I can see that. I think it’s quite counterintuitive to put Flores under pressure because I think a lot of people expected Watford to go down this season. So looking at it in its entirety, it’s still a pretty good achievement that they are where they are and that they’re in the semi-final of the FA Cup. It would seem to me that it would be harsh to sanction Flores for that, but it’s a quite a harsh environment that the Pozzos run.”
Oliver Holt, Sunday Supplement
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“I just look at the fact that they were tipped to be relegated, rock bottom of the Premier League. They come up and get 41 points quite quickly for a team with their resources, they get to an FA Cup semi final. I would find it absolutely shocking if they got rid of him after a season like this. I think it’s a major achievement to be where he is. What the owners perhaps don’t realise is that if they support the manager in this situation then that would strengthen his hand with the players. The minute you start grumbling and whispering about the manager around the training ground then the players get the message that this guy isn’t going to be around, but they should go the other way and support the manager.”
Paul Hayward, Sunday Supplement
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“They have had a phenomenal season. We didn’t know what to expect from them at the start but they are safe and in the semi-final of the FA Cup. The only thing I’d be thinking as a Watford fan is, will he move onto something better? There’s talk of a break in his contract. Now from a player’s perspective, you’d put that in your contract, thinking: ‘If I perform well this year maybe I’ll have the opportunity to go onto something bigger and better’. I don’t know the communication going on between Flores and the board but maybe he is just looking elsewhere. But the way Watford is run they have to shock the system with six or seven new players or a manager with a new system and that might be something they need to do to keep everyone on their toes. It might not be case of wanting to get rid of Quique but more: ‘This is our system and this is how we are going to stay in the Premier League’.”
Jermaine Jenas, MOTD 2 Extra
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“Everybody is saying how Eddie Howe has done such a great job at Bournemouth and yet this guy [Sanchez Flores] is under pressure? Do we not think in the last two or three years there has been too many instances in where the players think the manager should go? This never used to happen and suddenly the players have all this power. The league is the barometer and it has to be. Everyone is talking about the recent run of results for Watford but it should be taken over the whole season.”
Neil Custis, Sunday Supplement
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“There’s clearly something not right in the Watford camp for these rumours to be coming to the surface. I think it’s important to understand that at the start of the season Watford were one of the teams picked for relegation and you look at the job that he has done with them being in a semi-final giving them the chance to win a trophy. I think it’s ludicrous nowadays when you see teams that have come up and done so well and to have their manager in this position. I don’t know whether it’s come from his camp or what.”
Shola Ameobi, MOTD 2 Extra
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“It’s been a brilliant performance from Flores and Watford this season. I spoke to him at Christmas and he was really, really happy there. He loves English football and always wanted to get to the Premier League and there’s definitely been a change, that change being the second half of the season. Their form has dropped off spectacularly, it’s been relegation form. Ighalo has scored one goal when previously he was banging them in for fun. Does this mean the players have lost a bit of faith? Also because players go in and out at Watford so regularly, there’s a big turnaround of players in and out of the revolving door. Does that mean it’s hard to foster a base at Watford? Equally there is the question of him going to Valencia, who are looking for a manager. He would be interested in a job like that. So I can understand why he would be looking elsewhere and I can understand why the owners would be thinking that too. But the way Watford have dropped off, if they continued that into next season they could be in serious trouble. But the evidence for why he should go is still quite thin.”
Shaun Custis, MOTD 2 Extra
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“Why would you want to be a manager? What more they could do? What do they expect from him to do? It’s got something to do with the owners.”
Ian Wright, BT Sport
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“Quique rates himself very highly and they [the club] only rate him fairly highly.”
Pat Nevin BBC Radio 5 live
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