Gianfranco Zola claimed he doesn’t see Watford’s defeat to Hull City as a step back; merely “part of the journey”.

The Hornets’ seven-match unbeaten run ended yesterday with a 2-1 defeat to fellow play-off chasers Hull.

However, Watford’s head coach Zola said: “I don’t see this defeat as a step back; it is just part of the process and the journey. You can’t expect our team to win every game.

“Sometimes you lose and you learn from it. Everybody will and then, with more energy, we go forward again.”

The Hornets were particularly poor in the first half and whilst they improved in the second period, they were only able to grab a consolation goal by Troy Deeney in injury time.

When asked whether he was more disappointed with the performance or the result, Zola replied: “I think it was a bit of both. I was probably more disappointed with the performance in the first half.

“The second half was better; our approach was better and we created chances. We were unlucky with the second goal and we maybe could have drawn the match.

“But you cannot give away 45 minutes like we did.”

So what changed at half time which made the Hornets improve so much in the second 45 minutes?

Zola explained: “Second half we took a defender off (Joel Ekstrand) and put Marco Cassetti in the middle of defence and Ikechi Anya has then given us something extra going forward. Also, when Almen Abdi came on he was very good in the middle.

“But technically we were better in the second half. That created them a lot of problems.

“They were then more worried about us going forward and that was the difference in the second half.”

One reporter suggested that either Manuel Almunia’s positioning or the location of the wall contributed to Hull’s second goal, when Robbie Brady scored a 25-yard free kick.

“It was a very good piece of skill because he curled the ball very well and I think the way we gave the free kick away was more disappointing [than the position of the wall or goalkeeper],” Zola replied.

“The quality of our pass was not good enough compared to normal and we suffered because of it big time in the first half. That was the difference.”

There were internet rumours circulating yesterday that Fernando Forestieri had been left out of the squad because he was returning to Udinese.

However, the forward was sitting in the East Stand with the rest of his team-mates who were not in the squad and Zola confirmed after the match that the Argentine was indeed injured.

He said: “Fernando had a problem with his hamstring and it would have been too risky to have him involved. Simple as that.”