Is Premier League sack race between Flores and Martinez?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 7, 2016
Mid-table Premier League finishes for Everton and Watford are being billed as considerable underachievement and punching above their weight respectively, yet Roberto Martinez and Quique Sanchez Flores have some common ground.
Both bosses have reasons to be fearful for their jobs; certainly understandable in the case of Catalan coach Martinez with the Toffees posting their poorest home form for many years, but far harder to justify in regard to fellow Spanish manager Flores.
Martinez the manager in most peril
In light of behind the scenes changes at Goodison Park, Coral make Martinez long odds-on at 1/4 to not be in charge of Everton on the opening day of the 2016/17 season.
Now bankrolled by Iranian investor and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, the Toffees will want to flex their new financial muscle in the summer transfer window. Will Martinez be trusted to spend such funds? The jury is out.
Languishing in mid-table mediocrity when Martinez has star players such as Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku and John Stones is below par, though, and may make it difficult to retain these names.
Cup exits contribute to critics’ case
Martinez, 11/4 to keep hold of his job, knows his case isn’t helped by seeing his side fall at the penultimate hurdle in both domestic cups. Lifting silverware would’ve been a handy shield he could use to deflect criticism from his detractors.
The Toffees succumbed to the prevailing order in the Northwest, however, first bowing out of the Capital One Cup over two legs to Manchester City and then being beaten at Wembley by Manchester United in the FA Cup semis.
Even during his Wigan Athletic days, the joy of a trophy triumph was briefly savoured and abruptly lost by their subsequent relegation at the hands of Arsenal in a midweek Premier League match. Agony more than ecstasy is certainly the broad story arc of Martinez’s career so far.
Quique, don’t go breaking Hornets’ hearts
Fellow Spaniard Flores, meanwhile, faces an end of season review, with Watford part of the Pozzo family’s football assets that also include Serie A side Udinese and La Liga outfit Granada.
“The club would stress it is very happy with the job Quique and his staff have done this season,” an official Hornets statement read.
“As the club has consistently made clear, no decision has been made on the future of Quique Sanchez Flores and certainly no decision will be taken until the club has held in-depth discussions with Quique.”
Strike pairing have proven themselves
Blessed with a front two in Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo who have combined to net 25 Premier League goals between them this term, Flores is bizarrely odds-on at 2/9 to be relieved of his duties at Watford before next season.
Among the favourites to be relegated before a ball was kicked, the Hornets are safe and will thus benefit from the bonanza payday that the new Premier League TV mega deal starts in 2016/17.
There is now case whatsoever for Flores, who guided Watford to a Wembley day out yet suffered defeat by Crystal Palace in the other FA Cup semi-final, to lose his job or be removed from the Vicarage Road hotseat.
Are powers-that-be trustworthy?
Hornets owners the Pozzos are notoriously trigger-happy when it comes to managers, and they named four different bosses during their Championship promotion campaign in 2014/15.
Watford, like other outposts of the Italian investors’ empire, would really benefit from some stability on the coaching front. Flores, 3/1 to stay in his position, should be wary of becoming a victim of his own success somewhere down the road.
The tabloid rumour mill links the Hornets with wantaway West Bromwich Albion forward Saido Berahino in the event that Nigeria frontman Ighalo leaves Hertfordshire this summer.
Berahino buy would be statement of intent
Such a signing, likely to be less than £10m, shows how far Burundi-born England call-up Berahino’s star has fallen, but Watford will face stiff competition at such a cut-price.
Bids in excess of £20m for Berahino were reportedly turned down by Baggies chairman Jeremy Peace in the last two transfer windows. Long-time suitors Spurs and Stoke City would surely be ahead of the Hornets in the queue for the player’s services.
Nonetheless, Watford make for intriguing 33/1 outsiders to be Berahino’s next club, but a bigger and more poignant question is whether Flores will be the man to coach him there next term or not?
Read more Premier League features like this one on Coral’s dedicated section.