Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has urged his players to follow in Leicester’s footsteps by using Premier League safety as a springboard for bigger things.
The promoted Hornets head into Saturday’s home clash with Bournemouth just four points shy of the accepted survival total of 40 with 12 games still to play, and Flores is hoping they can complete their first objective sooner rather than later before plotting a fresh course.
That is something current leaders Leicester have done spectacularly and unexpectedly, erasing memories of last season’s late surge towards the finishing line by roaring to the top of the table.
Flores said: “We are really close. I would like to get to the objective as soon as possible because if the players achieve these 40 points, we have the possibility to not relax, but release the pressure to get the objectives.
“Leicester is the example. They achieved 40 points and then they are free on the pitch, they feel really, really positive. That’s the idea.
“We were expecting to play this kind of match against Bournemouth a long time ago because we are really, really close to 40 points.
“But we need to respect Bournemouth. They have a really good team, they have worked really well in recent years and it will be difficult.”
Watford have started their points tally ticking over once again in recent weeks after slipping into something of a lull around the turn of the year.
A return of just a single point from a possible 15 from Boxing Day has given way to seven from 12 since and progression to the FA Cup quarter-finals, and Flores has been delighted with the response from his players.
He said: “We are solid, we are a good team, we are working as a group. I am very happy with the squad we have. We are lucky with this squad.
“They are very good professionals – we were right when we were choosing the players in the summer – so the atmosphere in the dressing room is really, really positive.”
Bournemouth, who pipped the Hornets to last season’s Sky Bet Championship title, remain too close for comfort to the drop zone, and will hope to improve upon the 1-1 draw with which they emerged when the sides met at the Vitality Stadium in October.
Flores, who will have only midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado missing through injury, saw enough that day to know Eddie Howe’s men will be a tricky proposition once again this weekend.
“What we learned is they have a very good team,” he said. “That match was completely difficult for us. I remember, in the first half they played and and in the second half, we dominated the situation.
“There was a very good balance between the teams and the situation hasn’t changed too much since the first game. It will be a very difficult match.”