When he presided over the 1-0 win at Birmingham nearly two weeks ago, Tom Cleverley joined Rob Edwards, Slaven Bilic and Valerien Ismael in the list of recent head coaches who have started their Watford coaching career with a victory.

However, none of the other three were thrust into the job with the Hornets concentrated on putting fears of relegation further to the backs of everybody’s minds.

So that Cleverley navigated the Hornets through a nervous afternoon at a notoriously unwelcoming venue and came home with a win was an achievement in itself.

“Three points was the key at Birmingham,” he said.

“Firstly for our league position, but also for belief back in the squad and because it was a game where we learned a lot about our players.

“We know more about what we can and can’t play, things we got wrong as a staff, and still we picked up three points in the process.

“As staff, I think we got the high press a little bit wrong for our personnel, but we’re learning as well.

“To learn so much and get three points was a massive plus, and it’s given us a good foundation.

“There will be tweaks and hopefully we’ll see more a controlled and efficient performance against Leeds.”

While that win in isolation doesn’t mean Watford can be carefree for the final eight games of the season, defeat at Birmingham would have meant a far darker mood ahead of the resumption of league fixtures.

“I think the whole club had a sigh of relief when we won at Birmingham because, if we’d lost that game, it would have been a very different picture,” Cleverley admitted.

“We would have been looking over our shoulders, but now the shackles are off a little bit and we can play with some freedom.

“We can look forward to the next game, and we can look forward to the challenge of playing the top sides in the division in the coming weeks, rather than approaching those games with a sense of nervousness.”

Having got three points, Cleverley was more than happy to then have a weekend without another league fixture.

“Some people were saying would you have liked a game straight after Birmingham, but I think this has been a really productive period for us,” he said.

“We’ve been able to get our principles across, and talk about the environment we want to create, as well as the style of play.

“Obviously we’ve been without some players on international duty, but it’s still been a really, really productive time.

“I’ve enjoyed the last week or so, and I think we’ve all got a lot out of it.

“The players had three days off after the Birmingham game and then we’ve been working ever since.

“That’s the way I liked to do it – have the days off at the start of the international break and then your full focus turns to the next game.

“For a new coach, it’s been a very valuable period of time.

“When you’ve only got six or seven weeks it’s hard to fully implement a philosophy or a clear style of play, it’s more about how we’re going to win the next game.

“But you can drip feed things in, although the focus has been preparing ourselves for a busy period coming up.”

One thing Cleverley hasn’t been thinking about is whether he might get the job permanently.

“No, not at all.

“For me, it’s about how we win the next game, and then the next one after that.

“I feel like creating a feel-good factor for next season is good but personally, whether that is with me or someone else, I just care about the future of this club.

“That is why I keep mentioning that need to send people away happy and positive at the end of the season.”