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).