Despite not being top on Abramovich’s shortlist, Quique Sanchez Flores has what it takes to be the next Chelsea manager.
Yesterday, Chelsea departed Vicarage Road feeling quite frustrated. They not only left two points for the taking, but they were unable to break down the Hornets, who to their credit were expertly set up.
Granted, Heurelho Gomes stood on his head during the second half, denying the Blues on several occasions. The former Tottenham outcast was brilliant, denying Diego Costa’s surging header from point black range in the game’s dying minutes.
However, the match was certainly a tale of two halves. Watford were far and away the better team in the first half, pressing forward, possessing and asking questions of Chelsea’s backline. That being said, they failed to create too many real chances and Chelsea survived.
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In the second half, the tides turned and Chelsea began to possess and take control of the match. Cesc Fabregas began to pull his strings and Costa made the runs that have him on the top of his game in the last month.
What Watford did next earned them a point. Sanchez Flores realized that the context of the match had changed. His side was no longer asking questions, relinquishing possession rather quickly and allowing Chelsea to attack. He then substituted on a fresh defender in Nyom, as Paredes was showing signs of fatigue and was also on a yellow card.
The Hornets condensed their team, looking to absorb pressure, stay compact and grind out the match. Despite being in a better position in the table, Flores knew that the game was no longer there for the taking. Chelsea began to show their class and it was only a matter of time before they found the breakthrough.
Watford, with the help of their heroic keeper, kept Chelsea from scoring and picked up a valuable point from the match. In their quest to prove their Premier League pedigree, coupled with their slender 4 point lead ahead of Chelsea, a draw was more than enough for Flores’ men.
Sanchez Flores won the day as the elite manager, his strategy and deployment of his players getting the result that was needed. Conversely, Hiddink made tactical mistakes that cost Chelsea two points.
Hazard needed to be introduced sooner, as he changed the complexion of the match when he entered. The Blues looked unable and unwilling to break down the Hornets and needed a fresh face. Going a step further, introducing a player like Kenedy for Oscar would have given Chelsea another look. A look they so desperately needed.
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In the draw, Sanchez Flores continued to justify his managerial pedigree. Calm and collected on the sideline, the Spaniard reads the game well and has proven this in the past. It begs the question, how would he fare at Stamford Bridge?
It’s probably safe to say that no manager that Chelsea appoint can be regarded as a “long-term” appointment. Many thought Jose Mourinho was both times, while Scolari, Villas-Boas, and Ancelotti were also supposed to be.
That being said, unless a manager really proves himself to Abramovich, Chelsea will continue to inch along with managerial appointments every few seasons. That being said, the Blues could do a lot worse than Quique Sanchez Flores.
The Spaniard definitely won’t be top on Abramovich’s shortlist. However, he could absolutely succeed at Stamford Bridge. He’s considered a player’s manager, working closely with most of the players that he’s coached, minus Diego Forlan at Atletico Madrid.
He brings quite the managerial pedigree to the table, as he has won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid, qualified for the Champions League twice with Valencia, making it to the quarterfinals in the competition and winning the league cup with Benfica. Judging by how well Watford is performing in the Premier League, the Spaniard appears to be continuing his hard work with the Hornets.
The Top Flight
Leading his side to two draws over the incumbent champions, regardless of their performances this season, is no small feat. Make no mistake Flores is on an upward trajectory. He is gaining the respect of his colleagues.
As a former Real Madrid and Spain International, the manager would work well with Chelsea’s spanish players, including Costa who he’s managed in the past. He even commented after the game on the striker’s style after the match.
“I like this kind of player, who is fighting all the time,” remarked Flores. “He (Costa) is a very competitive player, very tough. He had a little problem with Paredes but these sort of things happen sometimes in football.” –Dailymail
Flores would work well with Diego Costa at Chelsea. The two shared an embrace after the incident with Paredes. There is clearly mutual respect between the pair, which could lead to a strong relationship at Stamford Bridge. In the wake of Atletico’s interest in Costa, it would make sense to appoint a manager that would encourage Costa to stay.
While Quique Sanchez Flores won’t be first on Abramovich’s list of managers for the summer, the Russian owner could do a lot worse than the Spaniard.