Belfast Telegraph

Flores and Bilic in focus

Every summer brings a raft of changes to Barclays Premier League dressing rooms and dugouts alike, with familiar faces making way for fresh - and often rather colourful - characters.

Quique Sanchez Flores and Slaven Bilic, the Spaniard and Croatian who have just taken charge of Watford and West Ham respectively, are very different personalities and extol the virtues of rather diverse brands of football.

Here, Press Association Sport's James Cann examines what fans can expect to see from the two latest managerial imports.



Flores, the son of a successful Real Madrid defender, was a regular fixture at right-back during his 10 years at Valencia and quickly adapted to the challenges of management.

He guided Los Che to a third-placed finish in the Primera Division but it was at Atletico Madrid where he really began to shine, revitalising the club and steering them to the Europa League title in 2010.

Since leaving Madrid his fortunes have been mixed - he has taken in spells in the Middle East and a brief stint with Getafe before being identified as the man to lead Watford in the English top flight.


The 50-year-old has been criticised for being tactically conservative but it was that insistence on defensive stability and patient build-up play that saw Atletico romp to victory in Europe five years ago.

Watford already have an abundance of attacking talent so Flores will perhaps spend the early days of his reign improving matters at the back.

Austrian defender Sebastian Prodl has already arrived and the club's contacts in Italy are likely to facilitate the capture of further talented individuals.


Diego Forlan was a star of Atletico's charge to the Europa League but his subsequent bust-up with Flores saw him isolated from the squad and spitting accusations of "bad blood" between the pair.

The impeccably dressed coach left the Vicente Calderon under a cloud in 2011 having left Valencia in similar circumstances years earlier, suggesting he possesses a fiery and emotional character.

Angrily voicing your concerns in public can earn managers hefty fines and bans in the Premier League but it is more pressing that Flores does not lose control of the Hornets dressing room.



Beyond his time as a tough-tackling centre-back with West Ham and Everton, England best remembers Bilic as the manager whose Croatia team denied the Three Lions a place at Euro 2008.

The famous 3-2 win at Wembley significantly raised Bilic's profile and from that point forward he was consistently linked with a return to Upton Park.

He continued to impress in his role with Croatia but, after leaving the role in 2012, flopped at Lokomotiv Moscow and spent two dynamic but ultimately trophyless years with Besiktas in Turkey.


The 46-year-old favours a flat back four, balance and creativity in his midfield, and versatile strikers.

Bilic's sides play a short passing game - a style traditionally popular in Croatia - and prefer to control possession of the ball in the opposition's half.

Besiktas players were shown 10 red cards during his final season in charge, meaning discipline could well be an issue, and his determination to push players forward may see the Hammers caught out consistently on the counter-attack.


The occasional smoker from Split is certainly one of the game's most intriguing personalities.

A former law student and still an amateur rock musician, Bilic prides himself on his man-management skills and firmly believes that boosting players' morale off the pitch will breed positive results on it.

His illustrative command of the English language is bound to provide some of the coming season's best media sound bites while he will hope his unbridled confidence rubs off on his new charges.


From Belfast Telegraph