Unsung Hero of the Month: Jose Holebas

holebas

Jose Holebas – http://www.fm-base.co.uk

The wing-back role can be the most physically demanding in football, but at 32, Watford’s Jose Holebas has performed it admirably.

As an attacking left-back, he didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with former manager Quique Sanchez Flores. The Spaniard employed a rigid 4-4-2, which limited the freedom of non-forwards and suited the cautious nature of then-loanee Nathan Ake, rather than Holebas’ pace and drive. That system relied on strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo doing a lot of attacking work on their own. When teams started to work Watford out in the second half of last season, Flores was unwilling to change his methods.

It would take a change of manager and formation to get the best out of attack-minded midfielders and full-backs, to make the Hornets a more dynamic and unpredictable attacking proposition. Enter Walter Mazzarri. The Italian has switched to a wing-back system, which gives Holebas the insurance of a third centre-back behind him and therefore the licence to push forward.

The Greece international has rewarded Mazzarri’s faith and been among Watford’s most reliable players this season. As well as a good work rate and reasonable defensive qualities, Holebas also has the technique to deliver powerful crosses and shots, one of which resulting in the winner at Middlesbrough earlier this month.

The former Roma man’s limited contribution last year hindered his chances of making Greece’s Euro 2016 squad. However, continued strong performances will see him force his way into Michael Skibbe’s World Cup plans and give Watford genuine hope of a top eight push.

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