Valerien Ismael says his players need to “be really nasty” when they get into the final third of the pitch.

Having watched his side lose 1-0 at Vicarage Road to Cardiff, the Watford head coach admitted “it was very difficult” to look back on the game and admitted the team needs to start doing more to get the goals flowing again.

The Hornets haven’t scored from open play in the last three games, and although some of their approach play may be attractive, it all turns a bit ugly when they get near the goal.

“The main thing is we have to create chances and put our players in a position to score goals,” he said.

“This season there is a shift in the Championship, you never know what will happen – from set pieces, from shooting outside the box, sometimes you play well and it’s tough because you create but don’t’ score.

“The main thing is we must create chances, put the players in a good position, and then it is about the desire.

“Now we have to be really nasty in the opponents’ box, to get in front of the defender, and to make sure you are always there and dangerous.”

For an hour or more, Watford played as if they were sitting on a comfortable advantage from the first leg of a cup tie, seemingly content to just keep hold of the ball – often in their own half.

It wasn't just lacking any threat, it was fairly grim to watch.

“Maybe they were too careful and didn’t want to lose the ball, and wanted to be patient,” said the Watford boss.

“But then it turned into being too safe: a back pass, another back pass, and that was not the game plan or what we expected.

“We wanted to lure the opponent on one side and then go on the other side, and then to break through.

“We made it two or three times, and straight away we created chances. That was actually the game plan.

“In the second half things were much better with the substitutes, they brought energy.

“Things won’t come from the sky. You have to push, you have to make sure that in the future we are not missing big chances.

“Today, the opponent was disciplined, but we should have beat them.

“When you miss the opportunities that we did, then you get punished.”

The defeat also stretched Watford’s run without a Championship win at Vicarage Road to five games: the last success came against Norwich on November 28.

No team in the top 15 of the table has won fewer games at their own stadium. That is concerning home form.

“Yes it is,” Ismael conceded, “because you need to use the home games to be strong and to take advantage when you pick up points away.

“Now this is a setback, as I say. It is a frustration. It’s disappointment.

“Today for me was a tough one to take.”