Quique Sanchez Flores’ believes Watford’s first Premier League clean sheet in 20 matches gives them a base to build from and feels that with more confidence they would have beaten Sheffield United.

The Hornets had the best opportunities of the very few that were created in a drab goalless draw at Vicarage Road, but Andre Gray fired over from close range, Danny Welbeck was unable to capitalise on a one-on-one while Craig Dawson saw a free header kept out by Dean Henderson in stoppage time.

While the game was an opportunity missed for the Hornets to pick up their first league win of the season, it at least stopped the rot of conceding at least once in every top-flight match since the 1-0 win over Everton in February.

The Watford head coach said: “We knew the match would be tough because we saw Sheffield playing against Liverpool and playing really well. At this moment in the season they are full of confidence and this is not our moment, we are in a more difficult moment.

“Okay it’s 0-0, we can improve on course, but the players at least have the feeling we didn’t concede and we had the best chances. The chances we had with Gray, with Welbeck, with Dawson are very, very clear and in another moment of the season with more confidence it will be a goal.”

Turning to the importance of the clean sheet, Sanchez Flores said: “It’s a good base to build something, something different because finally we don’t concede goals because it’s the only way to take confidence. It’s a long time ago with this team and I think it’s necessary [not to concede] if you want to grow. If you feel safe and you have securities about yourself it’s the way you can take confidence.”

The Blades had the majority of the possession in the first half and the Spaniard admitted he was not happy with his side defending so deep in a 5-3-2 shape, which had not been the intention, and relying on the counter-attack to try and create anything in the opposition half.

He said: “In the first half we had problems because we concede spaces down the sides. We went really deep, we defended the crosses well, but we were not happy with the first half. In the second half we corrected it and Sheffield played more direct and for us defending direct was easier.”

Watford did look more secure not deploying four at the back and Sanchez Flores felt the switch was necessary to give his side more defensive belief.

Asked if he would persevere with three centre-halves and two wing-backs, he responded: “The systems are not the most important thing. The most important thing are the players. Once you have the players, the systems can change and then the most important thing is how you read the systems, but we don’t have too much time.

“We changed today because we don’t have amazing confidence in our shape, we don’t have these memories around us this year. We know that if we don’t change we’re going to suffer and the way they play we’re going to suffer.

“We decided on a system that probably they need more time to understand, but this kind of system you are a little bit more safe in defence, so in some way we can win the match.”