Tom Cleverley feels these next nine games – and possibly beyond that – presents him with a chance to help Watford get back to where they were when he signed for the club in 2017.

The Hornets were enjoying life at English football’s top table, would later reach an FA Cup Final and had players such as Etienne Capoue, Gerard Deulofeu, Abdoulaye Doucoure – and Troy Deeney in his full pomp.

However, over the last few years life at Vicarage Road has been far less fun, on and off the pitch.

“One of my mottos throughout my career has been always look in the mirror when things don’t go so well,” Cleverley said.

“When I retired it didn’t sit right with me that I’d left the club in a worse position than when I arrived.

“Now I’ve got the chance to try and put that right, even for a short period, and it motivates me massively.

“I want to try and change the mindset a little bit, try and motivate the players because there is still a lot to play for.

“There may be a couple of a tactical tweaks as well, and I think with a combination of the three we can see some real positives and a change in results.”

This time last week Cleverley was preparing his Under-18 team for an away game at Colchester.

Seven days on and he’s readying himself for a Championship game at Birmingham.

So much has changed yet he has managed to prepare thoroughly and professionally despite a lot of upheaval.

“I’ve focussed a lot of hours on Birmingham this week, and we went to watch their game on Tuesday night,” he said.

“I’ve not had much sleep and it has felt like a bit of a whirlwind at times, but I believe we’ve done a really good job at having tunnel vision for the job in hand, and preparing the lads the best we could.

“The focus is 100% on Birmingham, but you do have a little look at the fixture list and there are some exciting games.

“They’re sort of games I always looked for when I played in the Championship.

“You have to embrace the challenge and I feel like the squad has also matched the levels when playing the bigger teams this season.

“I know the Championship well, and it doesn’t always work out how you expect it to.

“I honestly don’t see Birmingham away as being any easier than Leeds, or Leicester, or Southampton.

“I played there a lot of times and every game is a real big challenge.

“There’s no way I’ll be underestimating the challenge on Saturday at all.”