If there was one glaringly obvious, very simple message to take away from Saturday’s defeat at Middlesbrough, it was Watford’s attacking threat has to improve.

In the first half Mileta Rajovic was sent through and put the ball in the stands – in the second half Vakoun Bayo was clear on goal but didn’t even get a shot away before being tackled.

Rajovic has scored two Championship goals in 2024, Bayo just one. Neither has scored since April 1.

The two of them have netted a combined total of 18 goals this season, the same figure as Middlesbrough’s Emmanuel Latte Lath.

The Boro No.9 opened the scoring on Saturday, meaning he has ended the season with eight goals in his last six games.

Tom Cleverley agreed that for Watford to be competitive at the right end of the table next season, one or more of the chances they had at the Riverside has to be turned into a goal.

“We had the Bayo header, Rajovic going through and blazing it over, and then second half Bayo was through on goal with the last-ditch challenge,” he reflected.

“We got ourselves into decent situations and just didn’t capitalise on that.

“I was really pleased with our team out of possession and in possession will be the big focus of pre-season.

“Although I do think clean sheets are what keeps you consistent and gets you promoted out of this division, you have to score enough goals to be in the mix.

“Over the nine games I’ve had I’d say, as a whole, we’ve been just above average, and that’s me being harsh on myself some people might say.

“I think the positives are that we’ve reconnected with our fanbase, we’ve shown heart and desire, and we’ve got a solid base with five clean sheets in nine.

“The areas to improve are our productivity going the other way, and how much we can control games by keeping the ball in controlled areas with a purpose.

“For me it was probably a seven or eight out of ten before the last two games, but then not the best performances in our last two.”

Cleverley has been able to use the nine games he has had to road-test the car before properly getting behind the wheel.

“I’ve learned so much in the last nine games – about myself, about my players and how we’re going to be successful next year,” he said.

“I’m continuing to learn now as I plan for my first pre-season as a head coach and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what’s gone so far.

“I feel like I’ve addressed the issues that can take us to the next level, and it’s now down to us as a staff to plan how we put those things right.

“It really excites me to put my stamp on it with a six or seven-week pre-season. We have to make sure we hit the ground running come August.”