By Kevin Affleck
Quique Sánchez Flores said he feels a great responsibility to fulfil this team’s potential but is not going to tie himself in mental knots wondering when this elusive first league win is going to arrive, preferring instead to trust a process that has served him so well during his stellar career.
The Head Coach takes his side to Everton today with a Quarter-Final in the Carabao Cup at stake and victory at Goodison Park is likely to do wonders for confidence ahead of the visit of Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday.
But the Head Coach is cutting an extremely calm figure, believing there is nothing to be gained from panicking and agonising over a winless start to the league season. He remains convinced putting the building blocks in place now will yield positive results, enough to “be better when we finish the season”. He’s not about to start chasing results and being fast and loose.
“We are always preparing the matches thinking to win,” he said. “It's our concern, our goal before the matches. We prepare with the idea to win. But if we think too much about this, the only thing we are going to create is an obsession. This is not good for football. We need to be ambitious and have goals but not obsession as when you have an obsession, this is dangerous.
“You need to be clear. We need to be clear and know exactly what the goal is. It is not easy to win as it’s a long time since we have this feeling. We need to use our experience and a good mood to try to get it – but not an obsession about win, win, win.
“Even if we win [at Everton], it will be different as it's a win in the cup. What we need is a good win in the league. Everton is important but we realised, when we won against Swansea, it didn't affect what happened in the league. It is a different competition, a different line up and different goals. It’s important to win but the league is a completely different scenario.”
Not done there, Sánchez Flores then proceeded to produce one of the responses of his two spells in charge of this club. He was actually asked if his opposite number at Everton was feeling the pressure and slightly mis-heard the question, but his response was profound nonetheless and one that gave everyone in the room faith that he knows exactly what he is doing and that he's about to use all his experience with Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Benfica, Espanyol, Getafe, in the UAE, in China and in the Premier League to fix this situation.
“You can feel pressure the way you want,” he said. “It depends on the human being. We are talking about human beings – not only coaches. I can feel responsible, I can feel the responsibility but not the pressure. I can't feel the pressure because I am experienced, because I know where I am, and I control what I can control.
“I am focussed on what I can control. I know the scenario. I know what match I find [at Everton], I know the match I am going to find on Saturday because we try to analyse for days before, so I can't be nervous. It's impossible to be nervous for that. I feel safe wherever I am as my life is completely done, I am completely happy. I feel success with my family, with my kids, with my career and with my friends.
“I don't feel the pressure. I feel the responsibility every day. I wake up, I go to the training ground with clear ideas. I try to transmit my experience and feelings with the players, and I transmit that it [the process] should be slow. No-one should expect it to be quick. It's a long race and we need to take this way and live with these kinds of obstacles. We will be better when we finish the season.”
Sánchez Flores, 54, has been keen to stress since he walked in the door that there is no quick fix, no magic formula. It’s going to be about creating sustainability and putting a series of results together – not pulling off a fluke win that creates a false sense of optimism. He still feels there is plenty of time.
“We need to get the right reaction and the right reactions should be slow,” he said. “That is the only thing I know. We must try not to rush too much. We know the way will be slow, it will be difficult, it will be tough, all these kinds of things. But my experience says we need to be harder and work really, really hard for a long time if we want to change the situation. All of us we know.
“We use our experience to be calm, to try to give confidence to the players and try to recuperate the way we can be stable in the future. It is not just about a win today or tomorrow. No. It’s not done. We need to confirm, little by little, that we are improving, that we are in the right way. This is the right way for us.”