It didn’t take Tom Cleverley very long at all to name the one thing that makes pre-season better as a coach than a player.

The Watford boss began working towards his first summer as a head coach as soon as the final game of last season at Middlesbrough ended, and although it’s been a labour of love, there’s one bit he’s happy to put his players through and forego himself.

“When I see the lads sweating and absolutely going to the bottom of themselves physically, I can’t say I miss that part of pre-season too much!” he laughed.

“But as a coach, when you have double session your mind can’t stop – as a player you do your work for a 90-minute session and you can rest, you do another 90-minute session and you rest before going home.

“Whereas being a coach means you are constantly on the move and on the go. It can take two or three hours to plan a really good 90-minute session.

“Then you spend another hour analysing that session, and you’re doing all that twice a day.

“Mentally pre-season is much more difficult as a coach. Physically, it’s a lot easier.”

And there is one part of a robust pre-season programme that really does sort out the disciplined from those who may have enjoyed a slightly more relaxed few weeks off: the beep test.

For the uninitiated, the beep test requires participants to run 20 meters back and forth across a marked track keeping time with beeps.

Every minute or so, the next level commences: the time between beeps gets shorter, and so participants must run faster.

If a participant fails to reach the relevant marker in time, they are cautioned. A second caution ends the test for that runner.

The number of shuttles completed is recorded as the score of that runner.

It’s gruelling enough as a test, but doing it in the height of summer after a few weeks off is something few players, if any, look forward.

“Yeah, we still have the beep tests – Jack Grieves won that comfortably,” said Cleverley.

“I was good at the beep test, but I always managed to find someone who would beat me. I was second everywhere I went.

“When I was here it was Will Hughes, and then when he left Dan Gosling came, so I was consistently second.

“There are times when the lads will do track runs, maybe once or twice a week, because that’s important in the way we want to play.

“Our way of playing is physically demanding on the legs, but if I can get that physical work into a ball session then I will.”

Some coaches don’t introduce footballs into pre-season until a week or more has passed, but Cleverley does not subscribe to that method.

“I believe in letting players have a ball early in pre-season. I’m not one of those who bans footballs for the first week or anything,” he explained.

“As soon as the final whistle went at Middlesbrough in May, I felt it was time to be consistent in how we wanted to play.

“The final nine games of last season were about doing whatever it takes to get a result.

“But after the Middlesbrough game ended, it changed to getting a consistency, identity and efficient about what we do as a team.

“So there will be less tweaking, less changes needed and we will be more efficient at what we do.”