Quique Sanchez Flores has been speaking ahead of Watford v Newcastle, explaining how he is approaching his first ever cup-tie in the ‘historic competition’.
After four wins in a row and then a very decent 2-2 draw with Chelsea, Watford threw away four points in their last two games at home, losing both in the closing stages after having led Manchester City and drawing with Tottenham.
However, they still played great football in those games, with a combination of quality and commitment, two things that have gone missing on a regular basis at St James Park this season.
With 29 points and in 9th place in the table, you’d assume Watford are all but safe from any relegation worries and the quality of their football definitely doesn’t suggest any slide, however Flores still admits that his main priority is the Premier League. With no suggestion that with league safety well on the way, they will throw everything at the FA Cup third round tie.
Whilst Newcastle play Manchester United next Tuesday, Watford have an extra 24 hours before they travel to Southampton, but Flores says for Watford v Newcastle he wants to ‘give the opportunity to some players who are training really, really well but are not playing’.
If Flores changes half his team and ends up losing, thanks to the goodwill already built up in his half season in charge, the Watford boss will get the minimum of criticism from home fans.
However, due to the mess that Ashley, McClaren and others have made at Newcastle, the United fans won’t be anywhere near as forgiving if the Newcastle Head Coach does exactly that.
A classic Catch 22 situation, with Steve McClaren stuck between satisfying both Mike Ashley and the fans, stuck between trying to save Newcastle from relegation and keeping to the promises of throwing everything at the cup competitions.
As well as the dismal league form, Newcastle of course lost to Sheffield Wednesday reserves at hom in the League Cup.
Whilst it would be no embarrassment to lose to whatever Watford team plays on Saturday, you would have to think it a real cherry on top of the football shambles cake for a disastrous first half season in charge for Steve McClaren – out of both cups and one of the favourites for relegation sitting in the bottom three.
Quique Sanchez Flores speaking to the Watford official website:
“I am looking forward to this competition because it is very important in England. This is a historic competition, so of course we are thinking about the next match.
“We will try to be competitive again, we want to win, and we want to pass to the next round. It is not our main target this season but we do want to win and dedicate it to the fans.
“First of all, we must try to put a good team onto the pitch to try and beat Newcastle.
“We know that after a few days we have to play against Southampton, which is very important for our main target of the season, but now the most important thing is Newcastle.
“We want to take good feelings, we want to win, and of course we want to give the opportunity to some players who are training really, really well but are not playing, because other players are playing well in the same position.
“It’s an opportunity to show everyone we want to be competitive and finally, the most important thing is the mentality of the collective.”