For the first time this season, Watford ended the first half of an away game in the lead on Saturday.

In fact, it was only the third time in the entire season that the Hornets had completed the first 45 minutes of a league game with an advantage.

“I think we’d had two leads at the end of 37 first halves, and it’s not good enough,” said Tom Cleverley.

“Whether players were trying to pace themselves or feel their way into games, you know the Championship don’t work like that.

“Today wasn’t the perfect first-half performance but it was an improvement.

“Credit to Birmingham, they were strong today. They were much better than the performance I saw from them in midweek against Middlesbrough.

“They gave us a lot of problems: Miyoshi coming inside into dangerous areas, Laird bombing on.

“They gave a front-footed performance and we had to withstand pressure, as we did we started to dictate situations.”

With Wes Hoedt suspended, was there ever any doubt that Dan Bachmann would captain the team?

“Not at all, no,” said Cleverley.

“I addressed that as one of the first things I did when I took the job.

“Wes will be my on-field captain when he’s back, because my preference is an outfielder.

“Dan will be the club captain and lead the club forward.”

Last week Cleverley discussed having two targets – one game, and he was able to give a positive update.

“My job when I came in was to focus on winning this game,” he said.

“That was my first target, and the second one was to give the supporters something to look forward to for next season.

“Winning today completes target one, and helps with target two. But I know that second target is a long way from being complete.

“Today is a solid start though.”

The interim head coach said he was nervous before the game, but different to when he was a player.

“Yeah, because you’re accountable for everything,” he explained.

“I said to the staff before, in my 16 years of professional football I don’t think I’ve ever wanted three points more than today.

“I am very proud of the players and a little bit exhausted and relieved at the same time.

“I slept ok last night – I didn’t sleep for the first three or four days in the job.

“My head was spinning, but once I felt we’d prepared the team well and got our message across then the last couple of days haven’t been so bad.

“I felt calmer than I thought I would pre-match.

“Once the game started and Birmingham posed a threat and a few problems, then it gets the heart racing.”