The Boss Files: Quique Sánchez Flores

By: Watford FC Staff

To help celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Watford’s move to Vicarage Road, Daily Mirror sports writer Mike Walters recalls his encounters with those who have occupied the Hornets’ hotseat.

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl - and her nephew is one of only four head coaches to take Watford to Wembley…

Quique Sánchez Flores came from a famous family in which his father, Isidro, played for Real Madrid, his godfather was all-time Argentine great Alfredo Di Stéfano... and his aunt Lola was one of the most celebrated flamenco dancers in Spain.

In two spells, her theatrical influence lived on and infiltrated the cradle of artistic performance known as Vicarage Road. Few managers or head coaches in this parish have commanded an aura, or a sense of gravitas, like QSF.

Although the sequel wasn’t as happy as the original, he didn’t have a lot of luck, notably in that VAR ‘masterclass’ at Tottenham, the sensational 3-2 comeback win against Arsenal that didn’t quite happen, and the Southampton equaliser created by a blatant handball with the grace of putting the cat out.

Personally, I liked Sánchez Flores. First impressions often count the most, and our inaugural discussion in 2015 - about his famous family - was an enjoyable introduction.

“For me, it is very important to entertain supporters. I compare this profession with theatre artists,” said Quique, who won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid in 2010 - beating Roy Hodgson’s Fulham in the final.

“When we are preparing a performance, it is important to create emotion in the stands. I have been many times in theatres and amazing places watching not only my aunt but some of the most brilliant dancers, artists and performers in Spain. Those experiences help me to try and be a better manager.”

After that precursory chat with the Hornets’ head honcho at Sopwell House, I remember bumping into Harry Kewell, then Watford’s Under-23 coach, back at the training ground.

It was the first day of the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, and Kewell - who had been on the grass all morning - was keen to find out the score.

I told him Australia had scored 60. “For how many wickets down?,” enquired the former Leeds and Liverpool winger, who was born in the Sydney suburb of Smithfield. “All of them - all out,” I replied. Kewell’s pained expression, after Stuart Broad’s 8-15, was a picture.

Quique’s full season in charge of Watford, in 2015/16, may have tailed off after the insipid FA Cup semi-final defeat against Crystal Palace.

But that did not diminish the joy of the quarter-final win at Arsenal (even for those of us who tore a calf muscle leaping up to celebrate Adlène Guedioura’s phenomenal hit), or those four consecutive wins just before Christmas against Aston Villa, Norwich, Sunderland and Liverpool, or the spell he cast over Newcastle - three times.

And when the magic 40-point mark was reached at West Bromwich Albion, thanks to Heurelho Gomes’ twin penalty saves to foil Saido Berahino, it was a job well done - especially as Watford had been the hipsters’ and tipsters’ unanimous favourites for relegation.

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