Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster thinks Vladimir Ivic's demanding coaching style could be the key to success this season.

Speaking to the Guardian, Foster said the Serbian had been working his players "like dogs" in training, but knows high fitness levels will be important in a cramped season in which two games a week will be a frequent occurrence.

“He is very conservative in giving out praise. He’s not the kind of guy to put an arm round you, speak to you – ‘how you are doing or how’s the family’; he’s a completely different manager to Nigel Pearson," Foster said of his new boss.

“He is very direct and very happy to pull people up on things if they’re not working hard enough. He has been running the lads like dogs [in training]. Every single day they are crawling off the pitch, knackered. But because it is a ridiculously condensed season, being able to stay fit and keep fitness levels high could be the difference between making the top two or being in the play-offs.”

Foster has been in the Championship with Watford before with his one and only season in the second tier coming in 2006 as he helped the Hornets gain promotion via the play-offs.

“We were favourites to get relegated," he said. "That Watford team had just avoided relegation the previous year after Aidy Boothroyd took over. Manchester United were happy to loan me out because they knew I was going to get peppered, thinking we were going to be poor, but we ended up ripping it up, finishing third and smashing the play-offs.”

Things might not be as simple this time, with the squad unlikely to be fully settled until October, following the end of the transfer window.

Abdoulaye Doucoure marked the first big-name departure earlier this week when he joined Everton, but he will surely not be the last.

While relegation is never a favourable option, Foster thinks it is a good opportunity to refresh a squad, particularly one like Watford's with a number of ageing first-team players.

Whoever he is playing with next season, the goalkeeper wants them to bring consistency.

“It can be a good thing because sometimes clubs need a bit of a clearout, a flush-out, a chance to blood youth in and get some real energy around the place,” he said. “We have got quite a lot of exciting players, such as Domingos Quina. When they step out on to the training pitch you can see they are still living that childhood dream.

“I would much rather play with a team of seven out of 10s each week, rather than those that might be a nine or a 10 and then the next week they might be two or three. I want to know what I’m getting every match day.”

Quina's name fits in alongside a host of younger talents who will surely be given a fairer crack of the whip this season, with a lot of people expecting great things from the likes of Joao Pedro, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Ben Wilmot and, should he stick around, Luis Suarez.

Foster hopes the younger players can focus on their games throughout the season and not have their heads polluted by negative opinions on social media.

"It is the worst thing for a young footballer," he said.

“The first thing they do is they bring Twitter up, Instagram up and they’re searching for their name and looking to see what people are saying about them. I’m saying: ‘Lads, come on, these people, you’ll probably never meet them in your life but you have just let whatever they have said get into your head and it will affect you if you read enough of those negative comments. On the flip side, if they are saying amazing, wicked things about you, still don’t take it in – take no notice of it.’”

Social media has undoubtedly helped shape an opinion that some have of footballers as commodities rather than people. Foster urged his younger teammates to remember that they are more than just their jobs.

“If you ask me who I am, I would say: ‘I’m a father, a husband, I love cycling, I play football for a living, blah, blah, blah’ … but I think the problem comes when straightaway people say: ‘I’m a professional footballer.’" he said.

"Come on, mate. You’re not – you’re a human being first. But that comes with age. And that’s the thing you need to get into people’s heads, that they are people first. People see them as this commodity, this footballer, but they are a person first and foremost.”

It is this attitude that has seen Foster switch his attention to the end of his career, when it might be and what it is he wants to do after his retirement.

The 37-year-old would never be happy following in the footsteps of people like Joe Hart and Scott Carson, signing for big clubs merely as experienced back-up should first-choice goalkeepers pick up injuries, and feels he has a couple of years in him yet.

After that, he has his heart set on a life of cycling.

“If somebody said to me: ‘Come and be our No 2’ … I couldn’t do that," he said.

“I will give the next two seasons my full, undivided attention and then there are so many things I want to do on my bike on the bucket list, all of these lovely climbs.

“The Alps, all of the famous ones – the Vuelta [a España], the Giro [d’Italia] – even some of the mad ones. They have a race in America called Dirty Kanza, which is proper grotty – gravel bike, dirty, camping in bushes. It will be absolutely class; I can’t wait.”