First Team 16/10/2017

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 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."


Silva | “We Changed Our Attitude”

Marco Silva said that a change in attitude after half-time helped Watford to their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

Troy Deeney came off the bench to fire the Hornets level from the penalty spot, after Richarlison was barged over in the box by Hector Bellerin.

Vicarage Road then erupted in the second minute of stoppage time when the impressive Tom Cleverley crashed the ball home after the ball had pinballed around in the Gunners’ area. 

The Hornets were deserving of their victory, which carries them above Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and into fourth place in the Premier League, after raising their level significantly after the break. 

Watford had laboured a little before the break and fell behind when Per Mertesacker held off Cleverley to head home Granit Xhaka’s inswinging corner, but Silva couldn’t fault his players' character after half-time. 

“I think the key is how we played the second-half,” said the Head Coach in his post-match press conference.

“In the second-half we changed our attitude and played like we can play. 

“After the 1-1 we waited for our openings, to create problems. We were playing against a very, very good team, but we continued to believe we could score the second.”

Silva admitted there was an element of luck about Cleverley’s winner, in the way the ball fell to him unmarked in the penalty area. But he felt the Hornets made their own luck over the course of the 90 minutes. 

“We continued to believe, and in that moment we got lucky with the second goal, but we also tried to find this luck as well,” he said. 

The Hornets' Head Coach also moved to dismiss suggestions that Richarlison had dived to win the penalty, from which Deeney stroked the hosts level. 

“I respect of course the decision of the referee. It can be 50/50. It’s not an easy decision,” he said.

“But I didn’t see that moment as a dive, I didn’t see it as a simulation. The player felt a short contact and he went down.”

Not for the first time, Silva added that his side’s spirit, character and commitment shone through in the final minutes, with the Hornets yet again coming up with a late goal to seal the points. 

“It shows that we are starting to create a fantastic spirit,” he said.

“After we got to 1-1 the normal situation is to try and protect the result, but we try to cause our opponents problems. Before we scored we had one chance that hit the post as well. This is football.

“It shows to us a big commitment, and it shows one more thing - in the last minutes we were fresh. We tried to find something more.”

Watch Silva's post-match interview with in the video above - free to view, no sign-up required!