Walter Mazzarri slammed the attitude of his players after they threw away a one-goal lead to lose to Gillingham in the EFL Cup second round.
After Odion Ighalo broke the deadlock, the Hornets rode their luck when Bradley Dack missed a penalty at the other end. But they did not heed their warning, as Mark Byrne sent the tie to extra time and Dack made amends with a winner for the League One club.
Mazzarri said: “I am massively disappointed. Especially for the fans who don’t deserve to see us losing like that. They are very warm and they didn’t deserve that performance.
“Up until we scored we were ahead and in control. We created about seven or eight chances and as soon as we got ahead we completely changed the way we played.
“I need to change this mentality of the players when we go ahead. I’m very angry because we can’t see the danger of teams when we go ahead.
“The moment we go ahead we should continue to play well but we couldn’t see the danger and got complacent.
“Instead of becoming stronger and working harder we changed our attitude completely. I don’t think I made too many changes, we were creating chances regardless.
“It was the same team in the second half so I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to say I made too many changes. The fans are right to be upset, they deserved better.
“The players are fit enough. Even though all players get tired in extra time perhaps they were mentally tired a bit. We just need to work on our mentality when we go ahead.”
Gillingham boss Justin Edinburgh though, hailed the result as the best of his 10-year managerial career.
He said: “In the end we deserved it. We had to ride our luck a little bit in the first half. After Saturday we were a little fragile.
“When we missed the penalty I thought we missed our chance but we showed great courage and spirit to keep going.
“For Bradley Dack to come back from the penalty miss shows the character of the man.
“Hopefully we can keep hold of him. We’re not in a position to sell but if he does want to leave we’ll get the right fee that his talents demand.
“It’s a proud moment for the football club to come to a Premier League team with international stars and win. The level of fitness from my players was quite extraordinary.
“It’s a credit to the players that they continued to press late on when Watford looked a bit jaded. It’s without a doubt the biggest win of my managerial career and it’s great for the club.
“We know that we had to fight harder and run harder than we usually do. We showed great tenacity in this respect and I’m so pleased for the players.”