Watford manager Xisco Munoz insisted that his players need rest over the upcoming international break even if it risks disrupting the momentum that has propelled them into the automatic promotion places.
The Spaniard’s side showed no fatigue in their 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Birmingham City at Vicarage Road for a fifth successive Championship victory.
Munoz said: “I am very happy with everyone after five wins in a row, the first time for us in the Championship, but give me one day free, please. The Championship is very hard.
“We have a little more time for work now. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I know that the players need their rest.
“I am lucky, believe me, that I have 24 players and it doesn’t matter who plays when you see players give 100 per cent focus in our challenge for promotion.
“Our fans enjoy the fact that our players give everything. Everyone gives their best in attack and in defence. Because of that, we have one clean sheet more.”
Munoz praised new captain Nathaniel Chalobah, who scored Watford’s second goal but, just as importantly, made two crucial blocks at the other end.
Munoz added: “ I was very happy with him. I am lucky that I have so many good players. Nathaniel is just one of the important players in the squad.
“I’m not thinking about the fact that we won 3-0 to help our goal difference. I am happy just that we have a good team and that we are creating chances. The most important thing is to keep working hard until hard until the final day of the season.”
Ken Sema had given Watford an early lead, with Chalobah and Andre Gray putting the results beyond doubt.
New Birmingham manager Lee Bowyer was upbeat in spite of his side’s defeat three days after beating another promotion-chasing side in Reading.
Bowyer said: “Watford have come down from the Premier League and you can tell the difference. For me they are going straight back up.
“You could tell the difference in every aspect of their game, particularly the physicality of their defending and the way they defended their box.
“They kept getting through our press for the first 10, 15 minutes, but we changed it and at times we looked more likely the team to score next. It was just the quality. Watford were more clinical, weren’t they?
“But we moved the ball really well today and Watford couldn’t get near us at times. If you are going to put in performances like that against top, top sides then it should give us an edge against the teams around us.”
Bowyer hinted that the unrelenting nature of this year’s Championship schedule will force him to utilise his squad for the remainder of the season. He is adamant he will not sacrifice certain fixtures, however.
Bowyer added: “I should have maybe changed the side after Wednesday’s win against Reading because we looked sluggish in the first half.
“But we’ve just gone toe to toe with a top side. There are certain players you can’t rest and these games are still winnable. I think we can beat Swansea next.
“I won’t pick and choose games to play my best team but if we are playing Wednesday and Saturday, I will definitely freshen it up, no matter who we’re playing.
“Now I’ve got a bit of time to work with the players. We will have time to work on our finishing and defending set pieces.”
Bowyer insisted that the banner that was trailed behind a plane over Vicarage Road protesting against Birmingham Chief Executive Xuandong Ren was not his concern.
He said: “My job is on the football side and that’s all I’ll concentrate on. What goes on off the pitch is something I can’t control.”