Cleverley: “I'm Sure There Will Be Changes”
Tom Cleverley expects this Watford team to have a new look about them under Quique Sánchez Flores after the returning Spaniard made it crystal clear in training this week what he demands from the players.
The Head Coach took his first session on Monday afternoon and wasted no time in outlining his philosophy and how the team will shape up under his watch.
“We've only had a few days with him but he's very black and white in what he wants,” said Cleverley in an interview with Premier League Productions. “There is no grey area. He wants us to be more organised as we've conceded too many goals. We've not had a pre-season with this coach but I'm sure there will be changes. It might not be clear for the fans to see, but I can see there will be changes.”
Cleverley looks like a Sánchez Flores type of player. First and foremost, he works his socks off, he is tactically disciplined and can fit into a few systems.
“We've had a couple of chats, just on some tactical issues and positional things,” he said. “He seems a really good football man and a really good guy. He's straight forward with people and did a good job the last time he was here. I'm looking forward to working with him. This week there has been a lot of tactical work. We will have had a good six days to prepare and that's a good block of work to have with a new manager.”
There has been an inevitable bounce in training this week, the one that comes at any club when a new coach turns up and Cleverley knows that needs to be translated into Sunday's game and the ones after that.
“The intensity increases a little bit when you get a new manager,” he said. “We've not lost confidence. We know we had one really flat performance against Brighton but the next three could have gone either way. We've not lost confidence in our performance, we just know we need to start picking up results. You just need a little bit of luck in this league. Last year we were more clinical in both boxes. In the first four games this year we have created chances and not finished them. We've not been as intense in defending in our own box and that costs you at this level.”
With Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pépé in the opposition ranks on Sunday, Watford will need to be on their defensive mettle and really put into practise the defensive work Sánchez Flores has done with them this week.
“Danny [Welbeck] knows them well but he [Unai Emery] looks like a top coach and they've got some top players,” said Cleverley. “It's going to be a difficult game. We need to play like we did in 2017 and last year, when we went down to ten men, we were really good. We can give them a game, definitely. We've got to approach it with belief, with confidence and the start will be important against that level of opposition. We feel fully prepared, we've worked hard in the international break and hopefully with a bit of luck and we can produce some results.”
Cleverley, 30, is just glad to be back playing. He spent nearly a year out through injury and the game at Newcastle represented his first 90 minutes since March 9.
“I can always be better,” he said. “It's been nice to start the last two. It seemed a long way back from where I was this time last year. I'd just had my surgery. I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now I'm told it could be my 200th Premier League game if I take part [on Sunday]. It's nice to start achieving things again because it was a very low point last year. I'm 100 per cent now, though.”