Circle of life turns again at Watford as Quique Sanchez Flores eases back into familiar surroundings at Vicarage Road following Javi Gracia’s dismissal
- Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has eased back into life at Vicarage Road
- Former manager Javi Gracia was swiftly dismissed from his role earlier this week
- Gracia was axed following a poor start which saw Watford in relegation trouble
Perhaps the giant images of Sir Elton John on the walls had a subliminal impact as Quique Sanchez Flores eased back into the Watford groove by talking about the unforgiving circle of life for modern managers.
The world of football revolves more quickly than ever, that was his theme. August was not over and anxious owners were preparing to wield the axe. Managers come, managers go, often with indecent haste.
‘Unfortunately our life now is like this,’ said Flores. ‘A couple of times I have replaced managers and managers have replaced me. This is a circle. You need to be ready.
Quique Sanchez Flores talks about the unforgiving circle of life a modern manager has
‘You realise when you are working that you need to get a good result. If not, it’s very difficult for the clubs to hold the coach. It is completely unnecessary for a coach to think about what happens next year or even in six months.’
Watford move faster than most and reached out to Flores after a 3-1 defeat at home by West Ham, last month.
‘I was at home from China for about one week,’ said the 54-year-old, who resigned as manager of Shanghai Shenhua in July. ‘I was told someone wanted to talk with me, and I said, “Watford?” and they said “yes” and I said, “OK, I can guess”.
‘I didn’t even know the result of their last match, against West Ham. I’d recorded the match because I was travelling and when I received the text I thought maybe they didn’t win.’
Javi Gracia was on borrowed time because of his failure to tackle defensive frailties. Watford had been humiliated on the world stage when they lost 6-0 to Manchester City in the FA Cup final, and had not kept a clean sheet in the Premier League since February.
Former manager Javi Gracia was axed by the Hornets just four games into the new season
Owner Gino Pozzo and chief executive Scott Duxbury made their concerns clear but were astonished to find the full-backs pushed higher than ever up the pitch against West Ham when Michail Antonio punished them on the break.
Gracia’s reluctance to involve £35million record signing Ismaila Sarr also worked against him. Sarr debuted as a substitute against the Hammers and impressed in the Carabao Cup against Coventry but was back on the bench at Newcastle.
When Gracia opted against sending him on in the 1-1 draw and seemed satisfied with a point at St James’ Park it proved the final straw. One week later and he was fired.
Flores was available and attracting interest from other clubs. Watford figured he would be snapped up if they delayed.
So Pozzo made a 10th managerial change in seven years since his family bought the club and sacked Sean Dyche.
The return to Flores is intended to minimise the risk of a new manager requiring time to adjust to the Premier League and the idiosyncrasies of life at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets find themselves in the relegation zone following a poor start to the season
He was released in 2016, one year into a contract which had the option of another year, despite the relative success of finishing 13th and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
Reflecting on his Watford exit in a book, Flores complained of the board not sharing his ‘joy’ and ‘passion’ for the game. ‘I don’t know how to work coldly, pessimistically and without enjoying positive achievements,’ he said.
When asked about it, on Friday, he compared it to a family row since resolved. Meetings were necessary, he explained, to clear up ‘details’ and then it was ‘easy to say yes’.
Flores added: ‘I have a feeling that I’m in a good place now. Things change.. It is three years later. I feel really warm in my place. I feel really happy.
‘Nothing was broken. I agree if something is broken you can’t repair it. But even the contract wasn’t broken. It was one-plus-one not two years. So it was easy to keep talking and talking becomes easier when you’re not together.
Flores has signed a contract until the end of next season – this time without a break clause
‘I came to realise I did well because keeping the team in the Premier League was quite difficult, and now I think Gino and Scott are grateful that I put down the base for what came later.
‘What I did was important – and when I came back I could see how Watford have grown, when I see the training ground, the squad and everything.’
Flores has signed a contract until the end of next season – this time without a break clause – and his task is arguably greater than last time with no momentum, confidence low, Arsenal on Sunday and Manchester City next weekend.
He will need an instant impact or he will again be reflecting upon the manager’s circle of life.
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