Month: May 2016

15th May 2016- Premier League, Watford 2 Sunderland 2

Quique Sanchez Flores final programme notes.

Referee: Kevin Friend 
Attendance: 21,012 
1-1
2-2

MATCH REPORT: Watford 2-2 Sunderland

Quique Sanchez Flores says the memory of Watford fans will “be in my head forever” after bringing down the curtain on his year at the Vicarage Road helm with an emotional lap of the pitch following today’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland. The Hornets head coach, whose departure was confirmed on Friday, was joined by his family as he waved goodbye to the fans, who sang his song loudly after watching their side finish their first season back in the Premier League 13th in the table.

The Spaniard has taken the club to 13th and Premier League safety since his appointment at the end of last season’s promotion-winning campaign, not to mention a Wembley appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals.

‘Sensitive’ Flores sad to leave Watford

Both sides struggled to fashion clear-cut openings in the early stages with Watford’s Almen Abdi going closest with a low shot from the edge of the box that flew inches wide.

Sunderland proved much more clinical, scoring from their first significant opportunity. Prödl’s slip on the halfway line allowed Dame N’Doye to run unhindered down the left before passing inside to Jeremain Lens, whose drive was well saved. The ball was immediately worked back to Lens and this time his low centre was turned into a now totally exposed goal by Jack Rodwell.

“I feel my job is absolutely complete,” Flores said. “We hit the target we had to keep the team in this category and the way we did it was amazing. 

Several Watford players putting in performances that captured their seasons like a highlights reel… Paredes thundering down the flank before dropping a cross into Pickford’s arms, Jurado prompting gasps with his adroit, clever footwork without generating an awful lot (although in fairness his boldness did at least yield a shot or two on target and draw a penalty), Guedioura surging enthusiastically past opponents before losing control, or clumping a volley into the Rookery. Seb Prödl’s goal was just great, exactly the sort of goal that a centre-back built like a brick outhouse ought to be scoring. And young Sunderland sub Honeyman one minute being bullied off the ball in a grossly unfair confrontation with Troy, the next hacking the ball into the stand in terror in the mistaken expectation that his adversary was closing in…

Flores made a trademark substitution at half time bringing Paredes on for Cathcart.  The Hornets equalized three minutes into the half as a corner from Guedioura was headed home by Prödl.  A cracking strike just in front of us, which cheered us up no end.  Sadly the good mood in the home stands was short lived as Deeney was flattened following a corner, play was waved on and the counter attack finished with Watmore finding Lens who finished past Gomes to restore the lead for the visitors.  Watford came close to getting an equaliser soon after as Aké unleashed a shot that had to be tipped to safety by Pickford.  From the corner Britos headed just over the bar.  Then Jurado found himself in space but his shot was awful.  The Spaniard turned provider as he cut the ball back to Guedioura who shot over.  There was another scare for the Hornets as a free-kick was headed home by N’Doye but, again, it was disallowed for offside.  Watford’s fortunes improved when Paredes crossed for Deeney, he headed the ball back to Jurado who was sandwiched between two defenders and the referee pointed to the spot.  Having learned my lesson at West Ham, I put my camera away as Deeney stepped up and was delighted to see him send Pickford the wrong way as he buried the ball to the keeper’s left.

As the game wore on the atmosphere inside the ground began to grow. Watford fans were keen to show Flores their thanks, his name ringing around all four sides. Watford finished the stronger. The Hornets however couldn’t get the win on Quique’s last game.

More games from 15th May at https://oldwatford.com/tag/may15

11th May 2016- Premier League, Norwich City 4 Watford 2

Referee:
Roger East
Attendance:
26,279
1-0
2-3

Norwich were relegated to the Championship despite a thumping victory over Watford at Carrow Road.

The home side fell behind to Troy Deeney’s opportunistic 11th-minute goal, before responding three times before half-time through Nathan Redmond, Dieumerci Mbokani and a Craig Cathcart own goal.

The Carrow Road crowd started to sense events might just turn in their team’s favour after all, but news that Sunderland had taken a two-goal lead at the Stadium of Light quashed hope.

All the while, goals continued to rain in. Watford scored a second, Deeney getting around Russell Martin too easily and squaring the ball for Odion Ighalo. Sunderland scored a third. Norwich scored a fourth, Mbokani beating the offside trap and dinking the ball delightfully over Heurelho Gomes. “We lost intensity,” said the Watford manager Quique Sánchez Flores. “For the first time in the season, I had the feeling that it was a party match. It happens. We got the objectives a long time ago.” For Norwich, their quality constituted a sort of taunt. If only, if only.

It’s not unreasonable to argue that, our situation and form being what it is, travelling supporters kinda ought to have known that a non-performance like this was a strong possibility. It’s also true that Norwich had an awful lot more riding on this than we had. To be expected, perhaps, that they’d be the more focused, the more motivated. But even accounting for both factors and to whatever degree you sympathise with the position that Quique Flores is in – of which more later – there was no excusing this pathetic shambles. The club, the team, the manager do still have a responsibility to uphold… to their supporters, those daft enough to come have nonetheless spent time and money, and so on and so on. A well-worn argument. As importantly, but for the way the evening transpired in Sunderland, fans of both north-east clubs who may have been depending on this outcome would have had every right to look at this and ask “what the bloody hell was that all about?”. We’re not the only ones to take our foot off, sure. That doesn’t make it acceptable, whatever the magnitude of achievement that has or hasn’t gone before it. Lack of ability you can forgive. Lack of effort, less so.

At half time, I went to chat with Don.  You know that things are not going well when even Don can’t find anything positive to say.  Although he did manage a complaint about the ref, so I knew he was OK.  Our summary of the first half was that the majority of the Watford players were on the beach.

Whilst what Flores has achieved for this club is remarkable, and whilst I don’t want to seem ungrateful he is the master of his own downfall. I love the guy and I don’t want to be mad at him. I’ve been patient with him but like every human being I have my limits, and last night was the final straw. Last night there was a severe lack of imagination and effort (which isn’t something I like saying).