Reaction: Cleverley On Birmingham Victory

By: Watford FC Staff

Tom Cleverley spoke to the media after Watford's 1-0 win at Birmingham City in his first game as Interim Head Coach.

Emmanuel Dennis' goal just before half-time was enough to earn the Hornets a first win in five Sky Bet Championship matches.

Read what the Head Coach had to say below...

On three points and a clean sheet:

That’s exactly what the doctor ordered and exactly what I dreamt about last night.

It wasn’t as perfect as it sounds, and we will address some of the problems that we faced, but if the players show that much heart and desire to stop the ball going in the goal – and with the quality the team possesses – there’s a bright future ahead of us.

On a good defensive display:

I thought Pollock and Porteous were absolutely brilliant today. We had Sierralta stepping in for when it really mattered at the end, and our goalkeeper was there when the defence was broken.

They are all players that I’ve played with, so I know they are all warriors, all fighters, and they really showed that for me today.

I can’t praise the back four enough – two academy products plus Mattie Pollock, another young defender, and Porteous, who was the old head of the four.

Dan [Bachmann] was called upon a few times, a few more than I would have liked. Now that’s my job to organise that better. The main thing today was the result and the back four deserves a big pat on the back.

On the importance of victory:

First and foremost, the result was all that mattered today.

For me personally and for the football club, it was a huge game. We were starting to fall down and look over our shoulders but hopefully this can be the shackles off, and we can finish the season in a positive way, full of optimism for next year.

On the winning goal:

We know that Dennis has got that explosive burst so as a defender you can think you’re comfortable on the ball and then he appears from nowhere.

We spoke to the players, and we thought we would create chances from high regains today. We didn’t win as many balls as I would have liked, but one we did win mattered the most, so I’m pleased for Dennis.

He’s had a small groin issue, so it was always in my mind that he wasn’t going to complete the game. He’s done well to get through the hour, score the winning goal, and hopefully he’s back for next week.

On fielding Watford’s youngest team in 13 years:

I didn’t consciously do that. We lost Jamal [Lewis] yesterday so James [Morris] stepped in and did fantastic.

I think we had six academy products in our travelling squad, which fills me with pride.

I thought Mattie Pollock was absolutely fantastic today. We had a really young back four and kept a clean sheet with Porteous and Bachmann holding it together, so I’m really pleased.

On whether he had any doubts over the captaincy:

No, not at all. I addressed that; that was one of the first things I did.

Wesley [Hoedt] will be my on-field captain when he’s back because my preference is an outfielder, and Dan [Bachmann] will be the club captain and lead the club forwards.

On a successful first game in the dugout:

I said to the staff before that in my 16 years of professional football, I’ve never wanted three points more than today.

I am very proud of the players. I am a little bit exhausted and relieved at the same time. I didn’t sleep for the first three or four days in the job – my head was spinning – but we prepared the team well and got our message across. The last few days haven’t been so mad.

Surprisingly, I felt calmer than I thought I would pre-match and coming into the stadium. When the game started and Birmingham caused a few threats for us, it gets the heart racing a little bit, but how well our defence played today and the two lads in front of them really calmed the nerves.

On the international break coming at a good time:

The break helps. We expect to get our messages across and work with the players.

We need some time to prepare for what’s going to be a manic period – a Friday, Monday, then three games in 10 days after that.

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