Valon Behrami says his relationship with Quique Sanchez Flores completely broke down and that he would have pushed for a move away from Watford this summer had Walter Mazzarri not taken over.
The Swiss international, along with Jose Holebas, Obbi Oulare and Steven Berghuis, became completely disenchanted with life under Sanchez Flores and seriously explored alternative options. He fell out of favour once he got sent off against Swansea City and was not on speaking terms with the Spaniard by the time the head coach left.
“I didn’t have a good season last year; I had some problem with the manager,” Behrami said in an interview with BBC Three Counties’ sports editor Geoff Doyle. “I was thinking and looking at other clubs where the coach would have confidence in me and me confidence in the manager. There was a few options; Italy was one and Switzerland was another. I would like to play in Switzerland as I never played there. I left there at 17 and moved to Italy. But I stayed and I want to do a different season to the last one. I am a proud guy and last year was a difficult situation to accept when I’m not playing. And then when I played, I don’t play in my position. If I do something, I want it do it well and I want to earn my money. I want people to see me and say, ‘He’s trying 100 per cent’. That’s the most important thing for me.”
Sanchez Flores, we are told, lost patience with Behrami turning up on a Friday saying he couldn’t train because of his troublesome knee, making it difficult for him to prepare the team.
“When we were doing well, it’s ok but the second part of the season, when we didn’t win, it was a bit strange,” said Behrami. “I have my character and he has his own and we didn’t talk for the last two or three months. On one side, I was feeling bad as I want to earn my money and on the other side, I was concentrating on my fitness in training as I wanted to play in the Euros so I kept pushing every day. He make the decision [to play Ben Watson] and I’m fine with that but his [Sanchez Flores’] mentality was different to mine. We didn’t find the way to speak to each other and have a common target. With some injuries I had, the relationship split a little bit but this is part of football. I’m in football long enough to know this kind of situation.”
Behrami was the first Watford player to publicly declare his hand on the appointment of Mazzarri.
The midfielder was part of the Napoli side who, under the watch of Mazzarri, won their first trophy and achieved their highest league position since the heady days of Diego Maradona.
“We were together at Napoli and we did an amazing season,” said Behrami. “I know what he wants and he knows my qualities, so it’s good for me. He always wants 100 per cent from you and if you don’t perform well, he’s going to put you on the bench, even if the relationship is good. I know the way he wants to play so it was great for me. Him coming here changed my mind. He is the kind of manager who wants to see a reaction, he loves to see the personality of the player. The other one wanted to keep everyone calm and quiet. And I’m not a very quiet guy.”