Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has thrown his full support behind captain Troy Deeney, despite the striker’s late own goal costing the Hornets a draw against Manchester United on Saturday.
Deeney looked to have snatched a point for Watford with an 87th-minute penalty, only then to put United 2-1 up in injury-time when he bundled in Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cross.
The defeat was Watford’s fifth of the season and left the club 13th in the Barclays Premier League table, but Flores refused to blame Deeney, who now has three goals in his last four appearances.
“For us he is like the soul of the team,” Flores said.
“He represents values that we want for ourselves at Watford.
“He’s fighting all the time, he’s pushing his team-mates all the time, he’s everywhere on the pitch, so he’s very important for us.”
Louis van Gaal’s side dominated the first half at Vicarage Road and took the lead through Memphis Depay, but the Hornets improved after the break and arguably deserved a share of the spoils.
“At half-time I said to remove the first half, the most important thing was that we want to play another match of 45 minutes,” Flores said.
“I can’t explain. I don’t think anyone in the team was expecting the first half. We were playing Man United and, if you are not completely ready, Man United is better than your team to be honest.
“You can have a lot of difficulties to keep all the players with confidence, but it’s true it wasn’t our team in the first half.
“We weren’t expecting that but sometimes it’s possible.”
Flores also reserved praise for Etienne Capoue, who was one of the Hornets’ star performers with a commanding display in midfield.
The Frenchman was given the chance to sit out the contest following the terror attacks in Paris, but Flores insisted the 27-year-old was determined to play.
“It was impressive,” Flores added. “Capoue had a very tough, difficult week but I talked to him many times.
“I said, ‘Are you ready, are you ready? Are you sure, are you sure? Do you want to play?’ He said, ‘Yes, of course, of course’.
“He suffered a lot like the rest of the team in the first half, but in the second half he was a leader in midfield, he played well like the rest of the players.”