Jose Holebas returns to the London Colney training ground this morning seeking to resurrect his Watford career.
The Greece international left-back appeared to be on borrowed time on least two occasions last season, with word emerging regularly from the training ground that he had no future at Vicarage Road. It seemed almost certain he was going to be moved on in the winter transfer window after not being handed a single minute of action between the 2-0 defeat at Manchester City and Christmas Day.
He was surprisingly recalled for the Boxing Day game at Chelsea but after being overlooked for Nathan Ake the following week and again after a man-of-the-match performance against Leeds United in the FA Cup, he vented his frustration on social media following the draw at home to Bournemouth.
Relations between Holebas and Quique Sanchez Flores reached such a low that the former Roma man admitted he agitated for a move away from Watford in January, while the head coach left him out of the squad altogether for the last five matches.
“I was thinking I’d leave in January because I was so mad and so sad,” Holebas said in an exclusive interview with us in April. “In the end we couldn’t agree anything so I knew I had to stay here and work. Just because I didn’t get to move away in January, it didn’t mean I couldn’t achieve something here. So I worked as hard as I could do.
“It is good that I am an experienced player who knows how to handle it. I think a young player, if he [Sanchez Flores] treats them like this, it will destroy them. But it happened to me. It’s difficult because you’ve played in a big club, one in the Champions League, but I came here and I wasn’t playing.”
Even though the exit of Sanchez Flores will increase his chances of playing this season, Holebas and his representatives, Paul Koutsoliakos and Claudio Vagheggi, will want assurances from Scott Duxbury and Gino Pozzo about how they see their client, who is apparently wanted by Fenerbahce, featuring over the next two years. A move for Juan Camilo Zuniga, the left-sided player who is just 18 months younger than the 32-year-old Holebas, is in the pipeline.
But Holebas appeared to indicate he is willing to get his head down and fight for his place by posting “Lets go back” on Instagram last night. He was given an extended break after playing for Greece in Australia last month.
*Reporting by Adam Newson and Kevin Affleck