When Watford were beaten far more soundly at Sunderland than the 2-0 scoreline might suggest, head coach Valerien Ismael kept his players locked in the dressing room for more than an hour.

That gave everyone ample time to look at the league table and see the Hornets sitting in 21st, one point and one place above the drop zone.

Far from a 60-minute teacup flinging and hairdryer experience for the players, it was a chance for the staff and the squad to discuss what had gone wrong, what was needed to start putting things right and to hear suggestions from everyone as to how they were going to change course.

It was, after all, the Hornets' third consecutive defeat during which they had shipped eight goals.

Ismael, his assistant Dean Whitehead and a number of players have spoken about how that hour, while painful and coming so soon after a truly grim performance, was constructive, positive and even a little cathartic.

Roll forward just 39 days, and the Hornets are unbeaten in six games, have taken 12 points from 18 and are now 13th in the table – five points off the play-off places and ten clear of the trap door.

While there is still much work to be done, it’s quite some turnaround and Watford have gone into the international break in a much, much better position.

“I think we have worked hard to be in the position we are in,” said Ismael.

“When you work hard, you stick together and you believe in the work you put in, and when the players believe in themselves and you are patient with the young players, you will see your rewards.

“At the minute we are getting the rewards for our hard work.

“I think the performance from this block of games has been excellent, 12 points from 18 and six games unbeaten. That gives us a lot of confidence.”

Ismael likes breaking the fixture list into blocks, which are divided by the international breaks.

The Hornets took five points from five games in the first block, five points from five in the second and now 11 from five in this most recent cluster.

“We have improved with every block of games,” said the Watford boss.

“We had a very strong first game which showed what is possible with this squad, but it needed a lot of work first.

“When we lost three games in a row I think we came out of that challenge very well, and we found the right mentality.

“We are building something strong, and now we can take the chance to recover in the break and then come back to face a difficult block of games.

“December is always a big month with a massive block of games, but we feel more ready, we know the players more and what we need for each game.

“It has been a learning process but we feel we are moving in the right direction. The results are starting to show that, and in turn that helps grow confidence.”

Obviously, nobody needs a calendar to know that December is followed by January, and the opening of the transfer window.

While Ismael clearly has thoughts on what he might need, he’s playing his cards close to his chest and prefers to focus on giving the current squad every opportunity.

“Of course we have started to assess, but we also want to give the players we have that we count on them and want to give them a chance,” he said.

“My mindset is to give real confidence to the players so that we can say to them we gave them the chance to do something new, and to do it right.

“I think the response of the players to that has been good.

“Now the challenge is to keep responding so that we can see how far we can push.”