Only twice this century have Watford won more than half of their home league games in one season.

Rather than being a fortress, Vicarage Road has become something of a buffet for visiting teams, and head coach Tom Cleverley has stressed how vital it is that record changes.

In the last four seasons, Watford have won 38 home games – but 19 of those victories came in the 2020/21 campaign when they were automatically promoted to the Premier League.

That means in the other three seasons, the Hornets won a paltry 19 of their 65 league games at Vicarage Road: a success rate of less than 30%.

Cleverley has worked with his analysts to look at home performances with a view to making improving form at Vicarage Road a key part of work in pre-season.

“The tempo of our game at home has really not been quick enough,” he reflected.

“It’s like we raise the tempo when we’re playing Leeds, but when we play Preston we’re happy to just play at their tempo.

“We don’t get on the front foot, we don’t dictate the pace of the game.

“Things like aggressive tackles and fighting to win the ball back, they are things that ignite the crowd and make you difficult to play against on your own ground.”

The learnings and information Cleverley is gathering will be fed back to the players during the summer.

“As a coach, the key part of any process is explaining to your players ‘how and why’, and that will be an important part of the work we do in pre-season,” he said.

“When we came in, we wanted to tighten things up. We achieved that, but on the flip side we were nowhere near as creative as I want us to be.

“A major part of pre-season will be working on remaining tight at the back, but also being creative, expansive and on the front foot.”

Cleverley and his staff have been at the training ground pretty much every day since the season ended, and his life has changed in terms of the hours he now works.

“My wife has been absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“I’m not that present anymore – I wave goodbye at 6am, I spend all day at the training ground and then I see the kids for the final hour before bed.

“It’s not easy for the children, but what I try to do is dedicate my days off to the family, and turn my phone off.

“I try and do things like watch Super Sunday for the enjoyment of it as a fan rather than trying to tactically dissect everything.

“The family have been fantastic about it. The kids are aware I won’t be doing the school run anymore and things like that.

“They know how important this part of my life is to me. It’s working in football and it’s what I want to do for the next 20-odd years.”

The nature of being a manager and the unseen hours are part of the territory.

“Struggling with work/life balance is something I have to accept,” said Cleverley.

“I’ve listened to Sir Alex Ferguson talk about the sacrifices his wife and children had to make.

“I’ve spoken to Rob Edwards and heard him tell me to give my family as much time as I can, yet knowing Rob struggles to do that himself.

“It’s the life of a football manager. You try for it not to be that way, but it’s hard to avoid.

“You make these sacrifices now so that hopefully in 20 or 30 years you can look back and say it was all worth it.”