Scout Reports

What FPL managers can expect from Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores

The first managerial casualty of the 2019/20 Premier League season came on Saturday, as bottom-of-the-table Watford parted ways with Javi Gracia.

Gracia’s dismissal was swiftly followed by the appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores as head coach, with the 54-year-old Spaniard rejoining the club he had left in May 2016.

Upon his unveiling, Gracia said:

It was a very easy decision [to rejoin]. I’ve been a coach for 16 years and the time I spent in Watford, I was really happy. It was a good experience and this experience was amazing. I loved the way the fans love football in England, the way they support and the way they respect rules in England and everything. The moment I left I was waiting for the moment to come back to England. I feel Watford is my home.

In this article, we look back at Flores’ previous spell at Vicarage Road and analyse his managerial style to see what Fantasy managers can expect from the Hornets’ returning head coach.

Long-time site user Bøwstring The Carp has beaten us to the punch with a study of Flores and we can wholeheartedly recommend his excellent Community piece, which can be read here.

What Has Flores Said About His Managerial Style?

Speaking to the club website following his appointment, Flores said of his defence-first policy:

It’s important. Defence is the most important thing in all the collective sports. Defence is the key for everything. If you want to attack well it is necessary to defend well.

I follow a lot NBA and when Toronto Raptors won the NBA, some journalist goes to the coach and asked what is the key. He said the key was the passion and the defence. This is the base for everything. It could be good for Watford.

Talking about his goals for the season:

The priority is results. We know the schedule is really bad now, but everything is possible with a positive mentality of the players, with the fans supporting us, with the passion, everything is possible.

We need to be realistic. Now we are bottom, but the first mentality is we don’t want to go back. We don’t want relegation. We need to put the team in the condition to keep growing. We need to be humble and the first thing is to save the situation, establish the team in a different position. Once we are established in a different position, we can talk about the next goal for this year.

Flores’ comments, then, suggest that he will be placing a lot of emphasis on improving Watford’s main Achilles heel for much of 2019: their defence.

The Hornets are without a league clean sheet since February, a barren run that stretches back 16 top-flight matches.

No other Premier League club has conceded as many ‘big chances’ (70) as Watford this calendar year.

Asked about the wealth of attacking options he now has at his disposal in relation to his defensive mindset, Sanchez said:

We have young players, very fast in attack. This is interesting. We have more than we had four years ago. We had two main, Deeney and Ighalo, but… now we have more and we have different qualities and skills. We need to guess how they are working together and need to know as soon as possible how they mix in the match.

Which Players Has Flores Worked With at Watford Before?

Flores’ one season in charge of the Hornets came in 2015/16, when he steered Watford to a 13th-place finish in their first season back in the top flight.

Six of the squad he worked with in that campaign remain at the club: Heurelho Gomes (£4.5m), Sebastian Prodl (£4.0m), Jose Holebas (£4.8m), Craig Cathcart (£4.4m), Etienne Capoue (£4.9m) and Troy Deeney (£6.3m).

Gomes, Cathcart, Capoue and Deeney were regulars under their returning boss, with each starting at least 33 Premier League games in that campaign.

Prodl began the season as a first-choice at centre-back, making nine successive starting XIs at the beginning of the campaign, but was then in and out of the side for the remainder of 2015/16 and didn’t string together more than two consecutive starts beyond this point.

Holebas was not favoured by Flores for much of the season, making only 11 starts in the top flight.

Interestingly, Deeney’s best single-season goal haul in the Premier League came under Flores: the Watford club captain, who is currently out for two months with a knee injury, scored on 13 occasions in 38 appearances.

Strike partner Odion Ighalo notched 15 goals in that campaign.

What Formation Did Flores Use at Watford?

On the face of it, there aren’t too many dissimilarities with Gracia’s set-up over the past year.

Flores favoured a back four for pretty much his entire season in charge of the Hornets, either using a standard 4-4-2 or tweaking the system slightly to a 4-3-1-2.

Capoue was, as he is now, one of the two combative players in the double-pivot, while Cathcart was a near-permanent fixture in a two-man central defence.

Deeney played with Gerard Deulofeu (£6.3m) alongside him for much of last season but Flores favoured another physical forward alongside the club captain in his tenure, in the form of Ighalo – although the Nigerian was no slouch on the ball.

Holebas and the pacy Ikechi Anya were occasionally deployed at left-back but Flores settled on a physical full-back pairing of Allan Nyom and Nathan Ake for much of the second half of the campaign, which perhaps opens up the possibility of the Craig Dawson (£4.9m) being moved over to right-back – as he was at West Brom under Tony Pulis – should Flores opt to ditch the attack-minded Daryl Janmaat/Kiko Femenia (£4.4m) in favour of a more defensively sound option.

Almen Abdi, a central midfielder by trade, was shunted out to the right flank for much of the 2015/16 season, with Flores deprived of too many natural wingers in his newly promoted squad.

Whether the pragmatic Flores would have opted for a flair player out wide had more been available is another question, though: Nordin Amrabat was brought in during the January transfer window but was handed only four starts and was used mostly as an impact substitute.

With the likes of Ismaila Sarr (£6.4m) and Roberto Pereyra (£5.8m) now at his disposal, it will be interesting to see how much trust Flores places in attack-minded assets who are perhaps not renowned for their defensive aptitude.

This excellent video from The Coaches Voice sees Flores talking through his tactics in the 3-0 win over Liverpool in December 2015:

Watford: 2015/16 v 2018/19 – Basic Stats

SeasonPWDLFAPTSCS
2015/16381291740504511
2018/1938148165259507

Comparing Watford’s record under Flores in 2015/16 to Gracia’s last full season in charge perhaps sums up the two managers.

Flores’ approach garnered four more clean sheets and saw nine fewer goals conceded but that came at the expense of productivity at the other end of the pitch.

Of the 40 goals that the Hornets recorded in 2015/16, 28 were scored by Ighalo and Deeney. Not one other Watford player scored more than two league goals that season.

Watford: 2015/16 v 2018/19 – Underlying Stats

For the below comparisons, we will detail where Watford ranked among Premier League clubs for key underlying stats (1st being the best possible figure, 20th the worst).

Defensive
SeasonShots concededShots in the box concededShots on target concededBig chances concededChances from set plays conceded
2015/1610th10th13th=14th7th=
2018/199th12th14th19th15th=
Attacking
SeasonShotsShots in the boxShots on targetBig chancesChances from set plays
2015/1612th13th=15th13th17th
2018/1916th12th12th8th18th

Again, the key numbers (shots in the box, efforts on target and big chances) suggest Watford were more solid defensively under Flores but less of an attacking threat.

The Hornets created 51 big chances in 2015/16 compared to 81 last season but they conceded 32 fewer gilt-edged chances under Flores (66) than they did in Gracia’s final full season in charge (98).

Flores’ other managerial work

Since his departure from Watford, Flores has spent almost two years at Espanyol and then seven months at Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC.

Espanyol kept 11 clean sheets in 2016/17 and had banked nine shut-outs when Flores was dismissed ahead of Gameweek 34 of the following campaign.

That last season in charge of the La Liga club saw Espanyol really struggle for goals, scoring just 26 in the 33 matches that Flores oversaw.

Flores used a 4-4-2 for a large chunk of his time in Spain but we also saw a 4-2-3-1 used on several occasions: a system Flores had a reputation of playing before he first arrived in the Premier League in June 2015.

The Watford boss didn’t have much time to settle in China, lasting just 17 league and cup games before departing.

Flores lost nine of his 15 league games in charge, experimenting with wing-back systems and back fours before his departure in July of this year.

Final Thoughts

Watford sit bottom of our Season Ticker for both attack and defence over the next five Gameweeks, which perhaps gives Fantasy managers a nice audition period before the fixtures turn favourable in Gameweek 10.

We’ll be paying particular attention to what effect Flores can have on the Hornets’ porous backline, not just in relation to Watford’s own budget defensive assets (all of whom now cost less than £5.0m in FPL) but also how any improvement might affect Manchester City and Spurs’ attacking options in Gameweeks 6 and 9.

Flores’ reputation for pragmatic football would perhaps not bode well for Watford’s offensive assets but Deeney proved in 2015/16 that individual FPL players can still prosper in the Spaniard’s set-up, regardless of the approach.

Goals haven’t flowed from midfield in the past under Watford’s new head coach, so we will be keeping an eye on the underlying stats over the coming weeks to see if Pereyra et al are suffering in that regard: regular wide midfielders Abdi and Jose Manuel Jurado had just one big chance between them in the whole of 2015/16.

Flores has, arguably, a more talented squad at his disposal than he did in 2015/16, however, so will perhaps show a tad more ambition with his tactics.



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939 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Tomerick
    • 5 Years
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    If Trossard is out would you go Ceballos, James or someone else for 6.1 max?

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      James

    2. Woy_is_back
      • 2 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Iwobi

      1. Tomerick
        • 5 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        I like Iwobi but I’m not sure I fully trust Everton’s attack yet.

    3. Ask Yourself
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      James

    4. AuFeld
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      James. I think Trossard's agent said he's out for the next match.

    5. Offs!de
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      James

    6. Tomerick
      • 5 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Thanks all!

  2. Stimps
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    Worth doing

    A) Mane -> Salah (-4)?
    B) Keep Mane and (c)

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      b

    2. gooner_112233445566
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      B

  3. Forza Papac
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    Is anyone not captaining Sterling/KDB purely because of rotation worries?

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Yes - but have Aguero

    2. Tomerick
      • 5 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Had been considering KDB but I have Salah.

    3. Ask Yourself
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Not worried about KDB may captain him but think Salah/Mane will be more explosive

      1. AuFeld
        • 3 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        I captained Kane vs NEW. My gut is telling me that captaining Salah/Mane will yield a similar result.

  4. gooner_112233445566
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    Rate my team for this week, any changes needed??

    Pope (button)
    Vvd, digne, lund, (Montoya), (rico)
    Salah, sterling, kdb, mount, lanzini
    Jimenez, pukki, (Greenwood)

    1.2 ITB, 1 Ft....

    1. Ask Yourself
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Good team

    2. Turns
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Nice. Could roll the FT or upgrade def (Matip, Ota)

  5. Robin Van Persie (C)
    • 1 Year
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    For the millionth time!

    On WC!

    Aguero or Sterling?

    1. Ask Yourself
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      I am getting neither

    2. Kopkloppers
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      This week Kun. Next 34 weeks Sterling.

      1. GARY AND JAMIE
        • 5 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        This. May get some clues on how Man C will go post CL game. Have to remember that an injury to Salah or KDB might answer the question anyway (unless Mane then becomes more advisable).

      2. FPLGraham
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        Yep

    3. T.Henry14
      • 5 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      On WC Sterling.

    4. Kane Toads
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Aguero for me (on WC)

      I had Sterling prior to WC.

  6. Ask Yourself
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    8 days, 13 hours ago

    Just how important is Digne guys? Atm I have salah and a 3 way defensive rotation. However another options has emerged but I don’t know what do you think?

    A) Salah + Schar (in a perfect 3 way rotation)

    B) Mane + Digne (plays all except against Man City where Söyüncü has NEW)

    1. AuFeld
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      Salah > Digne.

      I would prioritize LIV and MCI defenders before Digne.

      1. Ask Yourself
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        TAA Ota Digne would be the back 3. I have other Captain options in KDB and Auba

  7. JAYPEE
      8 days, 13 hours ago

      On a WC
      A) Guilbert and Haller
      B) Pieters/Soyuncu and Abraham

      Or any other suggestions please

      1. Offs!de
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        A

      2. Ask Yourself
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        I’d want Haller at all costs. If Guilbert was nailed it would be very easy. My imagination suggests Guilbert plays the easy games for attacking qualities with Elmo playing the tougher ones. We can’t tell now so seems like a poor WC pick really hard to tell. If you don’t have Lundstram get him otherwise this is tricky find another source of the 0.3m to get Haller I hope

        1. JAYPEE
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            My team is currently

            GK: Pope, Button
            DEF: TAA, Zinchenko, Digne, Lundstram, Pieters
            MID: Salah, Sterling, KDB, Cantwell, Guendouzi
            ATT: Pukki, Abraham, Barnes

            with 0.1 ITB

            1. Ask Yourself
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              8 days, 13 hours ago

              Zinchenko > Otamendi ?

      3. Pompel
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        Som help needed guys. Got 2 FT's, but no obvious moves:

        Pope
        TAA Digne Lundstram Lowton
        Sterling(c?) KDB Mané McGinn
        Kane Pukki

        Subs: Button Diop Dendo Greenwood.

        Plan was to offload Kane at some point to Auba, but should probably wait until next GW with that. One alternative is to go with three budget players up top (two out of Haller, Barnes, Tammy, Wilson to partner Pukki) and do Mané to Salah(c)

        1. Daniel Exeter
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          8 days, 13 hours ago

          I expect Kane to drop over the weekend, so be ready for that. Will be mass transfers now the int break is over.

          1. Pompel
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            unless he hauls 😉

      4. Offs!de
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        8 days, 13 hours ago

        If Martial & Trossard are out then Martial + Trossard to KDB & Guendouzi for a HIT
        a) Yes?
        b) No?

        1. JAYPEE
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            If both out... YES. No point having players that aren’t playing

        2. New post
        3. maclrc
          • 2 Years
          8 days, 13 hours ago

          Pickford
          TAA, Zinchenko, Digne
          KDB, McGinn, Salah, Mount
          Barnes, Pukki, Aguero

          Button, Cantwell, Lundstram, Rico

          A) Hold
          B) Salah + Zinchenko to Sterling + van Aanholt

        4. JAYPEE
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            On a WC.

            Zinchenko, Pieters and Abraham or Otamendo, Soyuncu and Haller?

            1. Ajax Hamsterdam
              • 5 Years
              8 days, 13 hours ago

              Haller

          • The Big Fella
            • 3 Years
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            How many minutes did Mount and Barkley play last night? I was planning on doing Trossard to Mount but no point if he is not going to play either......

            1. Miguel Sanchez
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              8 days, 13 hours ago

              Mount played between 10-15 mins.

              1. The Big Fella
                • 3 Years
                8 days, 13 hours ago

                Cheers mate.

          • JorisLa
            • 2 Years
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            1FT - no pressing issue's

            a) VVD --> TAA
            b) C. Wilson --> Haller
            c) Safe

            1. Kook kook kooki
              • 1 Year
              8 days, 11 hours ago

              get haller in, might be in for a big one

          • Robin Van Persie (C)
            • 1 Year
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            Thoughts on Sterling getting rested this weekend?

            1. thegame983
              • 2 Years
              8 days, 13 hours ago

              He'll start. 92%

              1. Robin Van Persie (C)
                • 1 Year
                8 days, 12 hours ago

                Hahaha! Very precise answer!

          • shawry
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            8 days, 13 hours ago

            On WC, would you go option A or B? Current team is:

            Pope - Hart
            TAA - Digne - Ota - Lundy - Soyuncu
            Salah (c) - Sterling - KDB - Cantwell - xxxx
            Pukki - Greenwood - xxxx

            Option A: Mount - Haller

            Option B: Guendozi - Firminio

            Cheers!

            1. HarryB29
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 1 Year
              8 days, 13 hours ago

              Definitely A

          • snouty375
              8 days, 12 hours ago

              Heres my wildcard team any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks

              Pope

              Digne TAA zinchenko Lindstram

              De bruyne martial Salah ceballos

              Aguero Haller

              Button Kelly cantwell greenwood

              1. Kiwivillan
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                8 days, 12 hours ago

                Ceballos got 27 mins last time

                1. snouty375
                    8 days, 12 hours ago

                    He came on and instantly made an impact. Think he will get games now and arsenal fixtures looking good

                2. Mintu
                  • 3 Years
                  8 days, 9 hours ago

                  Pope button
                  Taa zinchenko Lindstrum souncu kelly
                  Sterling Salah James cantwell gounduzi
                  Auguro Haller Barns/Abraham

              2. Mikemaloney92
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                8 days, 12 hours ago

                Trying to fit KDB in here, who do i sell? 1 FT 0.8 ITB. WC?

                Pope
                Digne Zinchenko VVD TAA
                Mount Martial Salah Sterling
                Jota Pukki

                Ryan - Cantwell - Greenwood - Rico

                1. Concrete
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 5 Years
                  8 days, 9 hours ago

                  A Liverpool def and Martial

              3. Concrete
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                8 days, 9 hours ago

                A Digne

                Or

                B Otamendi