Sánchez Flores: “We Had The Best Chances”
Quique Sánchez Flores is a smart cookie and a good reader of the temperature so he wasn't about to start celebrating a goalless draw at home to a newly-promoted side, but he did see signs that this team might be heading in the right direction on the back of a first clean sheet in eight months.
You have to go all the way back to February 9, 19 games ago and a time when Sánchez Flores was coaching in Shanghai, to the last time the Hornets kept the opposition at bay in the league. It's been long overdue and been at the heart of a downturn in form.
The Head Coach has been craving one, it's the currency he deals in. The team kept three in his first five matches first time round and then five in eight matches a few months later. This one felt like the goalless draws he choreographed at home to West Brom and Southampton in the early months of the 2015/16 season.
“It's a good base,” he said. “Finally we believe in the idea of not conceding goals and this is the only way we take confidence, to build, to grow. It's necessary if you want to grow, it's the base for everything. You feel safe, you feel secure and it's the way you can take confidence. Being out of control is not good for you.”
The Head Coach sought to pick up a clean sheet by playing five at the back.
“The system is not the most important thing,” he said. “The most important thing is the players. Once we have the players, the system can change and how you read the system. We don't have too much time. We don't have amazing confidence in other shapes, we don't have these memories.
“If we don't change, we were going to suffer. We decided some system and we need more time to understand. We were safe in defence. We defended well with five defenders. It was the first time I saw the team defend well from crosses.”
Central to the shut out were the recalled Sebastian Prödl and Christian Kabasele. Prödl made a league start for the first time since April 2018 against Huddersfield while the excellent Kabasele was back after missing out in the last two.
“This is a message for every single member of the squad,” said the Head Coach. “That they should be ready because they could be needed in some instant. They can go to the line-up. This is very important. They should all be ready as we can use them.”
Sánchez Flores desperately wanted all three points. Everybody did. And the team had the chances to achieve that on the back of gilt-edged opportunities for Andre Gray, Danny Welbeck and Craig Dawson.
“We had the best chances,” said the Head Coach. “They were very clear and, in another moment, with more confidence, they would be a goal. We wanted a win, we needed it. They used their tools and we used out tools and we created the best chances. This is very clear.”
The Head Coach sensed the tension in the crowd. He felt it too but was pleased the fans stuck with the team in what is clearly a difficult moment.
“I understand the fans here very well,” he said. “I heard a few little complaints because we weren't going forward. That's OK. In the first half we were too deep, and we conceded too many crosses but they got behind us in the second half because they can see the players giving everything.”