Watford still looking for first win after 11 attempts
Watford have already fired one manager this season. Could they really be about to get rid of another? A manager who has already parted company with the club once before?
Reaching the FA Cup final in May to being fixed at the bottom of the Premier League, winless in 11 league outings, is some fall for the Hertfordshire Hornets. But there are no indications their predicament is about to improve.
The signs of unease were apparent at the end of last season but were glossed over when they reached Wembley (only to lose 6-0 to Manchester City). They did well in the knockout competition, but stopped winning in the league having been in a position to challenge for Europe with a month or so left.
Then manager was Javi Gracia, an amiable Spaniard who was popular with the fans right until his departure. Much was made of the fact he was one of the few coaches at Watford to finish one season and start in charge of the next, such is the revolving door policy at the club.
Gracia was fired in September, and Quique Sanchez Flores returned. Flores himself had parted in 2016 despite keeping Watford in the Premier League after promotion. And now he finds himself under threat, with some fans turning against him during the defeat to Chelsea last weekend.
If there is a glimmer of hope for Watford, then it comes on Friday night when they visit the club second bottom of the Premier League, Norwich City. A win would lift Watford off the basement.
The players, as you would expect, are saying the right things. Defender Craig Dawson said all their energy is going into preparing for the battle.
“Everyone’s working really hard and we’re not far away from that win, so we need to keep on working,” said the centre-half. “The win will come and that will build confidence.
“We’ve had a few games where certain decisions have not quite gone for us. That’s football. It’s important we stay focused and those decisions will turn for us and the win will come as well.
“It’s been difficult, but we’ve got some pretty big characters in the squad trying to keep us all together.”
Dawson is certainly still backing the manager. “He’s come in with bags of energy and bags of confidence. I think that’s slowly getting into the players and I think training has been very good. I think you can see with the performances that we’re not a million miles away.”
For Norwich the game is equally as important, but expectations are different for the newly promoted club. Their manager Daniel Farke can rest easily in his job whatever the result. The same can’t be said for Flores.
Pressure has been mounting on Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores