Sebastian Prodl blasts Javi Gracia's reign at Watford after fall-out with former manager

Arindam Rej
The Telegraph

Sebastian Prodl believes there is a “much better” atmosphere at Watford, having finally been recalled following a fall-out with the previous head coach.

Austria defender Prodl made his first Premier League appearance in a year, in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Sheffield United, helping bottom-placed Watford to their first league clean sheet in 20 matches.

Newly-instated Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores has quickly re-integrated Prodl, since replacing sacked Javi Gracia last month.

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Prodl said: “I was invisible for a few months and struggled with my knee surgery and that was one side of it, the process of being out and coming back.

“The other side was having a fall-out with the manager. I have to admit reality and it was very obvious but I knew I would take my chance if there was another change. There is a change now.”

Prodl had initially been a regular starter under Gracia, who took over in January 2018, before completely going off the radar the following season.

Discussing Gracia, Prodl said: “It’s history, let it be history. Maybe there will be a book one day.

“It is the wrong time and we are in a situation where we have to look forward and push to get better results, more points and maintain our status in the Premier League.”

<span>Prodl praises improved Watford resolve under the Flores regime</span>
Prodl praises improved Watford resolve under the Flores regime

Asked about Flores, the Watford defender replied: “He is very demanding. We are training a lot. I like that. There is a good atmosphere and it is much better than it was.”

Prodl was one of three central defenders in a back five deployed by Watford during their cautious display against Sheffield United.

Sheffield United had the bulk of possession but had to be rescued twice by goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Henderson had been in the spotlight after being criticised by United manager Chris Wilder for an error in the 1-0 defeat against Liverpool in the previous game.

Wilder defended his management style, saying: “I think I get a tune out of players. I think I have done in the past. And I like to think we do as a staff.

<span>Sheffield boss Chris Wilder defends managerial methods</span>
Sheffield boss Chris Wilder defends managerial methods

“You wouldn’t have done what these players have done, with the resources we’ve had, over the past three years without backing them and supporting them and sometimes the other bits.

“But they’re strong boys. The changing room is a strong changing room. To be a professional footballer is tough and to be a top one playing at Premier League level is even tougher.

“The players have to get over the next hurdle and the players have done.”

Defender Chris Basham admitted: “Dean Henderson got some stick off the boys and the gaffer [last week] but he trained well with his heart on his sleeve.

“At the end of the game, everyone is cuddling him in the dressing room. We all knew he would do that. He is a big character.

“In the dressing room at the end of the Liverpool game, tensions were high, as we had played the European champions and felt we were going to get something from the game. It shows how far we’ve come.”

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