Watford winning goalscorer, Emmanuel Dennis played with a slight injury and drew praise from interim head coach Tom Cleverley for poaching so perfectly just before half time.

The striker’s predatory instincts saw him steal the ball and them calmly finish off the opening he created to decide a game of few clear chances against Birmingham.

It gave Cleverley the ideal start, as well as providing a much-needed boost for Watford as a whole.

“We know that Dennis has got that explosive burst,” Cleverley said.

“As a defender you can think you’re comfortable on the ball, and then he appears from nowhere.

“We said to the players we thought we would create chances through high regains today. We didn’t win as many as I’d like but the one that mattered went in.

“He’s been nursing a small groin issue, so it was always in my mind that he wasn’t going to complete the game.

“He’s done well to get to an hour and score the winning goal.”

One of the slight tactical changes the new boss employed was to ask his wide forwards to get closer to Dennis when the ball was on the other flank.

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“Yaser is dangerous, and we know Dennis has been a little bit isolated, so we were trying to get bodies closer to him.

“The flip side to that is your winger is out of position if you lose the ball.

“It wasn’t perfect and us as a staff will never see it as perfect after one game.

“It was a little bit more chaotic than I’m used to with the noise and the occasion, and I also thought Birmingham played well.”

“I came and watched them on Tuesday and they were quite flat. Today I thought they were excellent.

“So the win is exactly what the doctor ordered, and it’s what I dreamt of last night.

“It was a win and a clean sheet but it wasn’t as perfect as it sounds, and we’ll address some of the problems that we faced.

“But I think if the players play with the same desire and heart to stop the ball going in our goal, we know the quality of the team possesses – there’s a bright future in us.”