Former Watford players Tommy Smith and Gifton Noel-Williams believe confirmation of the news Quique Sanchez Flores is leaving will plant the seed of doubt in the minds of some players.
Mario Suarez, Jose Manuel Jurado and Nordin Amrabat were signings made at the behest of Sanchez Flores – and the future of the first two must be seriously in doubt given their loyalty to the head coach.
Ikechi Anya and Odion Ighalo have both tweeted, expressing their gratitude to Sanchez Flores, while Ben Watson has said publicly on at least two occasions how he couldn’t believe there was even talk of Sanchez Flores’ job being under threat. We understand the players found out, like the rest of us, when they were having breakfast in the canteen on Friday.
“I think they will be very disappointed, first and foremost,” said Smith on Sky Sports News HQ on Friday morning. “I think there will be confusion. You are going to want and try to speak to someone, sit down with someone and find out the direction [the club is taking]. It’s quite unsettling. You want that stability and for the club to have had such a fantastic season and gel as a team, as a unit, I’m sure they’ll be disappointed and desperate to get some answers.”
Yet players know where their Premier League bread is buttered and they knew the ownership model when they signed their long and lucrative contracts. Craig Cathcart, for example, didn’t sign for Watford because he always wanted to play under Beppe Sannino. Any thought Miguel Britos and, particularly, Valon Behrami had of leaving will have dissipated with the news that their former boss at Napoli, Walter Mazzarri, is in line to be the next head coach.
However, Noel-Williams feels Ighalo and Troy Deeney will be particularly sad to see Sanchez Flores go.
“If I was Troy or Ighalo now, I wouldn’t want this manager to leave as I know he loves me and plays me week in and week out,” said Noel-Williams in an exclusive column with us last week. “It would put question marks in my mind – if they don’t want him, do I go to better my career? If your contract is running out, you don’t really care what is happening with the manager as you are more concerned about your future.
“When I was at Stoke and Tony Pulis said he was leaving to join Plymouth, I got offered another contract by Stoke but I wanted to play for Tony. I refused the contract and went to Burnley instead. There were four or five of us who decided to leave because Tony was leaving. I loved Stoke, it is a great city, but I went to play for Tony. Him going put a big spanner in the works and created a lot of uncertainty. You start questioning the direction of the club.”