27 April 2024

Watford boss Tom Cleverley relieved at long-awaited home win

27 April 2024

Watford manager Tom Cleverley admitted his relief at ending the club’s 12-game winless run at Vicarage Road with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

A Ryan Andrews goal gave Watford their first home win since November 28 in Cleverley’s first game since being named permanent manager.

Cleverley said: “I would have taken a 1-0 win before the game, but I’ll always be honest and that was possibly our poorest performance since I’ve been in charge.

“Football has got a funny way of working out. We were excellent in the second half at West Brom and at Southampton and we came away with one point from those two games, so we’ve got a little bit of payback today.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t a stellar performance, but the result was huge for us today. We were sloppy in possession and made too many technical mistakes.

“Maybe that’s the high demands I have of the team. I see on a daily basis how technically good we are in small spaces. I won’t stop demanding until we can have a complete performance.

“Sunderland did a good job of knocking us out of our rhythm and they caused us a lot of problems in the second half.

“It was pleasing that we managed to see it out defensively when we couldn’t manage it against Leeds and West Brom. We showed a bit of grit to see it out and make it five clean sheets in eight.”

Cleverley said taking the winless home run into next season would have weighed heavily on him and his team.

He added: “It’s massive to get the home win out of the way before the summer. If we went an off-season and a pre-season and then to the first game in August, you’re looking at nine months since the last win at home. That doesn’t sound great for a club of our size in this league.

“We’ve managed to clear that one off today, so we’re really, really pleased that we’ve managed to send our supporters away for the summer with a little bit of something to celebrate.”

Unlike Cleverley, Sunderland interim head coach Mike Dodds has no certainty over his status at the club beyond next week’s final fixture at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

And watching his side miss a host of chances before Watford’s goal would have hardly helped his cause.

Dodds said: “I’m really upset for the group and really upset for the fans, whether those who have travelled to the stadium or those back in the north east.

“That’s a game we shouldn’t be losing or even drawing if I’m completely honest. It could have been a 3-0 or 4-0 game to us. But this group has to realise that they’ve got to take their chances.

“When their players and staff are saying something similar as you come off the pitch and their bench is saying that they got away with one today, it’s a really bitter pill to swallow.

“And then their goal is a really poor one to concede. But I would say that’s one moment in 90-plus minutes out of possession where we didn’t do what we should do.

“Taking the emotion out of it, I can’t be overly critical of the group. If we play that game 10 times over, we win it nine times.”

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