Ben Watson has defended the “fantastic” Quique Sanchez Flores amid growing speculation surrounding his future, insisting the entire Watford squad want their manager to stay.
A poor run of form in the second half of the season has led to speculation that the Hornets could sack the Spaniard, despite steering a club tipped to struggle to mid-table safety and to an FA Cup semi-final which ended in defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Watford are 12th in the Barclays Premier League and level on points with Everton, who possess one of the country’s strongest squads. However, Watford’s owners the Pozzo family have a ruthless reputation with Sanchez Flores their fifth appointment in a year when he was recruited last June.
“I thought he’d be up for manager of the year,” said Watson after the 2-1 defeat to the Eagles at Wembley. As Daniel Storey wrote in 16 Conclusions, ‘if this is to be the end of Flores’ tenure at Watford, he will leave with a great deal of sympathy’.
“He’s been incredible for us. Listen, that’s football. I don’t know what’s going on. If it’s speculation, it’s speculation, there’s not much we can do about it, we’ve just got to get on with our jobs.
“Everyone in that changing room hopes the manager stays.
“He’s the best manager I’ve worked under. He’s been fantastic this season, he’s brought different ideas and him and his staff have been great.
“To have a team joint-11th in the Premier League, getting to an FA Cup semi-final and be under pressure… there’s not much more we can do.”
Watson’s central midfield partner Etienne Capoue has also defended the manager, who earlier dismissed the possibility of returning to former club Valencia.
Sanchez Flores’ predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked having just led Watford to the Premier League in a season where Beppe Sannino, Billy McKinlay and Oscar Garcia all had stints in the dugout, so Watson would not be stunned if the club chose to dismiss the current boss.
“It’s football, that’s what happens in football, managers come and go,” he said. “Me personally? I hope he stays. Everyone in that changing room? They hope he stays. Listen, we’ll see what happens.”