Tom Cleverly

Watford has appointed Tom Cleverly as their new permanent manager

Watford has appointed Tom Cleverley as their new head coach. The 34-year-old was handed the interim role earlier this season and has impressed so far. 

The former Manchester United midfielder becomes the 11th permanent manager at Watford since 2018. He has helped them steer clear of the relegation zone and has taken the Hornets to 15th in the Championship table. 

Cleverley has lost just once in his seven matches in charge as the interim coach after moving up from the Under 18s role. He spoke to BBC earlier this week and said:

“There is a lot of unfinished business from my playing career. That drives me forward with my coaching. I didn’t achieve anything in the Champions League with Manchester United. The title we lost to [Manchester] City. I came to Watford when they were in the Premier League. I retired as a player with them in the Championship. None of it sits right. I left a few out there as a player. I probably lacked ambition. But as a coach I am very ambitious.”

Cleverley was confident of getting the job permanently this summer and it was hinted in his post-match interview. He claimed that they were trying to find the right balance and getting things ready for the next season as their main goal for the current season is done.

He said:

“It’s [about] finding that balance between really shoring us up at the back, because the games I saw earlier in the season and against Southampton last week we’ve been too open, and when we play three at the back and are solid we look a little bit toothless in attack.”

He continued:

“Everyone says you need a 25-goal striker, but the last time we got promoted I think our top goalscorer was on about 10 or 11. We know how to have a challenge at one end of the pitch without having a prolific goalscorer, and I’m happy with our forwards. So it’s really finding that balance between being an attacking threat and tight at the back.”

Setting sights on a promotion battle next season, Cleverley said:

“We’ve played five of the top seven since I came in and competed in absolutely every one of them. Alright, we’ve probably not done enough to win four or five of the games so far but we’re at the level. I want us to take massive belief from this that we can continue to improve with a strong pre-season. If we can do that then I have no doubt that we can be at the right end of the table challenging for promotion.”

Watford were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2021/22 season and have stuggled to get back into the top flight.