Quique Flores left with mixed emotions

EVERTON 2 WATFORD 2:

Quique Flores left with mixed emotions

“In the future, when we are winning with a few minutes remaining, and fighting to the end, I hope we can close the match out,” he said.

Last season’s Championship runners-up led twice at Everton, only to be pegged back. First Ross Barkley cancelled out Miguel Layun’s first-half goal with an unstoppable strike from the edge of the penalty area. When Odion Ighalo restored Watford’s lead with a stylish finish seven minutes from the end, an unlikely victory beckoned. But they could not see the job through.

Arouna Kone, a frustrated and injury-troubled striker for much of his two years at Everton, suddenly remembered how to score, taking on a Romelu Lukaku pass and whizzing a low shot across Heurelho Gomes.

It was only Kone’s second goal for Everton, and he admitted afterwards to feeling emotional.

For Flores, there was frustration mixed with hope.

“If we are disappointed, and we have the feeling that we have lost two points against this team in this stadium, it is a good sign,” he said. “Everton are tough opponents.”

Watford were a popular pre-season tip for relegation, but it may be time to reassess those forecasts.

A team who have made 10 summer signings, and who are on their fifth manager in 12 months, had no right to be as well-organised as they were at Goodison Park.

Flores, new to the Premier League after spells coaching in his native Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, picked six debutants in a starting line-up containing 11 different nationalities. Somehow, they gelled. Sebastian Prodl was commanding in central defence; Valon Behrami energetic in midfield; Jose Manuel Jurado was a sparky threat on the wing. Everton were slow to figure out how to cope.

These are difficult times for Roberto Martinez as he begins his third season in charge at Goodison Park. While Watford have reshaped their team, Martinez has managed to bring in just two players; midfielder Tom Cleverley and winger Gerard Deulofeu. Everton’s manager says he needs three more before the transfer window shuts on September 1. There is no doubt his squad needs freshening up.

There are other issues; left-back Leighton Baines missed the match after aggravating an ankle injury in training, and may need surgery, while central defender John Stones continues to attract Chelsea’s interest. Martinez continues to stress that Everton do not need to sell, but the question is whether Stones really wants to stay.

“He loves Everton,” Martinez said. “He loves the club and the team and he is an incredible professional.

“I don’t think you would ever expect him to sulk. He will always react professionally.

“We are all human beings, but he is an incredible leader. You are talking about someone who is going to be a captain one day.”

EVERTON (4-2-3-1):

Howard 6; Coleman 6, Stones 7, Jagielka 5, Galloway 6 (Kone 63, 6); McCarthy 6, Barry 6; Mirallas 5 (Oviedo 76), Barkley 7, Cleverley 7; Lukaku 5 (Naismith 90).

WATFORD (4-2-3-1):

Gomes 6; Nyom 6, Prodl 7, Cathcart 6, Holebas 6; Capoue 7, Behrami 7 (Watson 79); Anya 6, Jurado 7 (Ighalo 74), Layun 7 (Paredes 59, 6); Deeney 6.

Referee:

Mike Jones 7

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