Gianfranco Zola has vowed Watford will bounce back from their npower Championship play-off final defeat to Crystal Palace stronger for it next season.
The Italian's team, full of loan players, suffered defeat to a 39-year-old journeyman striker as Kevin Phillips netted the decisive penalty in extra-time at Wembley. Zola was magnanimous in defeat, conceding Palace were the better side on the day and insisting his side will respond next term.
"This game doesn't take anything away from our season. It's been a very good season," he said.
"It's a very unfortunate thing we didn't play our best game. They played better and they deserved to win the game.
"We're going to be stronger next year. This is not the end of the road for us, this is just the beginning."
Watford are owned by the Pozzo family and their use of loan players from Udinese and Granada - also owned by the Italians - has been criticised.
Zola would not be drawn on whether the players he has on loan - seven loanees were in the starting XI - would stay next term but is confident of an improvement, suggesting automatic promotion is the target.
"We are all much more prepared about what we have to face next year," Zola said.
"This year many points were not so clear. Many players came in, we didn't know if they were able to adapt to the new challenge.
"Now we know where we're going, more or less what we have to face and we have a very good platform to start from. We're going to improve the team, improve the squad and we're going to be more competitive."