Quique Sanchez Flores final programme notes from his first spell in charge.
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.
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.
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.
The final table looked like this