Cleverley | “Definitely Worth The Wait”
As if there was ever any doubt, the scenes that followed Tom Cleverley’s injury time winner against Arsenal confirmed just what a first goal since returning to the club meant to the Watford midfielder.
Speaking to watfordfc.com after full-time, Cleverley – who last found the net for the Hornets in 2010 – said: “The last time I was here I scored a few goals and you get a real buzz, but a last-minute winner against Arsenal was definitely worth the wait. At the Rookery end, as well!
“I just remember there were a few ricochets and it fell to Capoue, and he had a blocked shot.
“I had a little gamble on the edge of the box, it fell really nicely for me and I thought with people sliding in I’ve got to go higher, so I just stuck it into the roof of the net and thankfully it went in.
“It’s by far the best moment I’ve had since I’ve been back. In my first game I hit the post against Middlesbrough but this was even sweeter. I’ll have a big smile on my face tonight.”
The introduction of Troy Deeney with just under half-an-hour remaining seemed to change the game for the Hornets, and Cleverley pointed to that as further evidence of the strong options available to Marco Silva this season.
“The whole squad has been fantastic, there’s been massive consistency and massive performances, and Troy made a real difference today,” he said.
“Andre [Gray] has been brilliant for us but that shows the strength in our squad and the quality we’ve got in all positions.
“Troy really bullied them and made things happen. He got his goal and we really gathered momentum when he came on.”
Last-minute goals in three successive games point to a real strength of character within the Hornets’ squad, and Cleverley admitted it’s a group of players he’s thoroughly enjoying working with.
“With this squad of players and staff, you look forward to going into work on a Monday,” he said.
“It’s a really good bunch of lads, so it’s a mixture of doing it for them and personally not scoring for a while, a lot of emotion came out in the celebration and it was a really good moment.”
Watch the full post-match interview with Cleverley above - free to view, so sign-up required.
A cock-a-hoop Tom Cleverley believes the late, late goals Watford keep plundering with such dramatic effect is testament to the mentality shift Marco Silva has orchestrated at Vicarage Road.
The trailblazing Golden Boys became on Saturday the first side in the storied history of the Premier League to score result-altering goals in three successive matches.
When you throw in the one Miguel Britos scrambled in against Liverpool, the Hornets have now won six points in stoppage time and added further credence to the growing belief that Silva has won both the hearts and the minds of the players.
"Since he's come in he's tried to change our mentality and not be a club that maybe settles for a draw," said Cleverley, speaking to Talksport's Jim White on Monday.
"The mentality change has been the biggest thing. He's done that quicker than he thought. He's turned us into a club that believes in ourselves in every game. What he said at half-time on Saturday changed the game. We were tentative. I thought we looked very fit at the end, kept going and weren't settling for just a point."
Silva has dramatically announced his era as Head Coach amid a series of late goals which have garnished some high energy and electric team performances. This group is clearly playing for him and one another and, according to Cleverley, it's all a result of the work taking place on the training ground.
"As as a manger he's got that perfect balance of having a fear factor and being approachable at the same time," said the midfielder.
"He's got a real good balance of doing tactical work and also sharp intense work, the six or seven-a-side stuff the lads enjoy. Everyone knows where they've got to be on a Saturday and we work hard on set-pieces. The lads are enjoying it and it's fun."
Troy Deeney feels Cleverley has been Watford's stand-out player this season and it would take a brave man to disagree with the captain. He's already looking like a contender to win the club's Player of the Year Award for a second time.
The summer signing from Everton has flourished in a new role as the most advanced central midfielder, setting the tone for the team's high press and acting as a smart conduit between the holding midfielders and the lone striker. And now, just to top it off, he's popping up with a goal.
"I played as an out-and-out central midfielder at the weekend but I've been playing a bit further up," said Cleverley.
"The manager has given us freedom to get forward and there were two midfielders in the box in the last minute on Saturday. I've started every game I've been eligible to play in [since I joined on loan]. The icing on the cake would be to add more goals to my game and hopefully they can come. I'm really enjoying my football and it helps when you've got a good bunch of lads and are on a good run of results."