It took three games to find Watford’s progress on the route set out by Valerien Ismael slowed by a bump in the road, but the head coach did not hold back in calling out the issues that most fans at the Bet365 Stadium saw for themselves.

Few serious goal attempts, a lack of options in attack and another injury all compounded an afternoon when Watford suffered their first league defeat and conceded their first league goal of the new season.

“Our performance in the first half was not good enough,” admitted Ismael.

“We didn’t stick to our game plan, and the two or three times we got through we had chances, but they weren’t big chances.

“That was not enough. We didn’t do the basics and there was too much long-ball – and we don’t have the players to play like that.

“We didn’t win the second balls or the duals. These are the basics in football and if you are not playing well at least make sure that the basics are right.

“I said that to the guys at half time and I thought the second half was much better.

“Then we conceded the goal in our best period of the game, but we created a lot of chances after that.

“At least we saw our identity in the second half, but a Championship season is a long journey and it is ruthless.

“If you are not ‘on it’ for a game then you will be punished like we were today.

“The thing is that we learn from the game, particularly that we are ready from the start to compete and especially when you are the away team.”

Although the second half was better than the first it wouldn’t have taken much to be an improvement, and Ismael didn’t let that mask his view of the game as a whole.

“The response in the second half was good, but not enough,” he said.

“You will lose games and I don’t mind as that is all part of the game, but the least I expect is to see our identity and mentality.

“That was missing in the first half.”

And with James Morris limping off, Francisco Sierralta ruled out of the game totally and Ismael admitting Rhys Healey’s fitness was in his mind when using his subs, the squad that looked thin before the game is appearing pretty translucent this evening.

“Yes we need players in, that’s not a secret,” Ismael conceded.

“We play with the players we have at the minute, and we still have some players who are out, especially in the full-back positions.

“Ngakia and Lewis were out before today so that’s one in each full-back position. But we have to deal with it, and I don’t want to complain or use it as an excuse. Injuries are a part of the game.

“Hopefully it was just a cramp for James Morris, and he will be back next week.”