EFL

Tom Cleverley sees bright future for Watford after win at Birmingham

By Sports Desk March 16, 2024

Watford interim manager Tom Cleverley thinks there is a bright future for the club after the Hornets secured a 1-0 victory over Birmingham.

Cleverley was announced as interim boss after the sacking of Valerien Ismael and got off to a winning start thanks to Emmanuel Dennis’ 44th-minute goal.

Dennis pounced on a mistake from the hosts to fire the ball past goalkeeper John Ruddy for what ultimately proved the match-winner at St Andrew’s.

Cleverley said the victory was what he dreamt of in the build-up to the game but praised Birmingham for their performance.

“It’s exactly what the doctor ordered and it’s what I dreamt of last night,” Cleverley said.

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

“I came to their game Tuesday and saw them in quite a flat way but today I thought they were excellent, so credit to us for winning the game.”

Cleverley praised his back four in being an integral part of claiming the three points and striker Dennis for scoring the winning goal.

“I can’t praise the back four enough, two academy products, and (Ryan) Porteous was the old head of the four and Dan (Bachmann) was called on a few times, a few more than I like and that’s my job to organise that better,” Cleverley added.

“The main thing today was the result and that back four deserves a big pat on the back.

“We know that (Emmanuel) Dennis has that explosive burst so as a defender you may think you are comfortable on the ball but then he appears from nowhere.

“We spoke to the players, we thought we’d create chances through high regains today and we didn’t win as many balls as we liked but the one that mattered went in.”

Birmingham assistant manager Mark Venus said he could not fault the effort of his players.

“I can’t protect the players for Tuesday, but I can protect them today, I thought they gave everything on the pitch,” Venus said.

“We talk about missing a little bit of quality, that was evident again today, but as far as energy, intensity, desire, purpose and team spirit, that was all there today.”

Venus says his players need be more ruthless in front of goal as they failed to score for a third successive league match.

“We have to finish better, let’s see it as it is, we have to finish better and we have to put the ball in the net,” Venus added.

“We have to raise our quality, we have to do better all those things, all the other things were all there today.”

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