We probably all saw Watford getting rid of Javi Gracia coming – after all, this is Watford, it’s sort of what they do.
But what’s this? Quique Sanchez Flores coming back? Now that is unexpected.
What to make of the whole thing? Mike Parkin of the ‘From The Rookery End’ podcast joined us on the Totally Football Show this week to explain why a change was made.
“Watford fans have had to readjust expectations very quickly,” said Mike. “The aim now is to avoid relegation, it’s as simple as that. We’ve seen clubs of a similar stature come up, spend a couple of seasons in the Premier League then go back down. We want to make sure that’s not us, and I think that’s why they’ve acted so quickly.
“It may sound daft to think it’s a relegation battle after just four games, but it’s felt for a long time that Javi’s days have been numbered. The start to this season has been poor, but then if you add that to the end of last season, which was pretty bad – the FA Cup final appearance masked that a little bit. People weren’t talking about the league form because of the showpiece cup final – the less said about that the better.
“We haven’t kept a clean sheet since February in the league, and there haven’t been many signs of it being turned around.”
So that’s why Gracia went, but Sanchez Flores? Who saw that coming? Not Mike, it seems.
“The sacking itself didn’t come as a surprise – what was a surprise was 31 minutes later, the tweet that announced Quique Sanchez Flores was back. Anyone outside the inner sanctum at Vicarage Road would’ve had to read that tweet three or four times – I certainly did. I thought it was a parody account when I saw it.
“It’s good in some respects: we know what we’re getting from Quique. He’s a handsome and fine-smelling man, he’s a great figurehead and a good fit for how we want to present ourselves as a club. His M.O. is to tighten up the defence, which is something we need to work on.
“But it’s a different club, a different team and different situation to the one he was brought in at the start of our Premier League adventure, to deliver a more pragmatic approach, to make sure we were hard to beat. He did it, but he benefitted from us having Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo scoring for fun, so he could concentrate on the defence, while the attack took care of itself.
“This time, Deeney is out injured for a couple of months and Andre Gray is the only one who looks like scoring. So he really does have a job on his hands – he’s got to focus on defence and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
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