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Watford sack head coach Ranieri in attempt to stave off relegation

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - Watford sacked head coach Claudio Ranieri on Monday (Jan 24) after just over three months in charge following a dreadful run of results which has left the club in the Premier League's relegation zone.

The Italian's last game in charge was Friday's damaging 3-0 home defeat by fellow strugglers Norwich City. He departs Vicarage Road having lost 11 of his 14 matches.

"The Hornets' Board recognises Claudio as a man of great integrity and honour, who will always be respected here at Vicarage Road for his efforts in leading the team with dignity," Watford said in a statement.

"However the board feels that, with nearly half of the Premier League campaign remaining, a change in the head coach position now will give a new appointment sufficient time... to achieve the immediate goal of retaining Premier League status."

Watford, promoted last season, are in 19th position after seven defeats and one draw in their last eight games. They are without a victory in nine games in all competitions, their longest winless run since 2013.

The 70-year-old Ranieri took charge in October after Xisco Munoz parted ways with the club just seven league games into the season and with Watford in 14th place.

It continues the revolving door policy operated by the club's owner Gino Pozzo. Since Javi Gracia's exit in 2019, Watford have now sacked further five managers. The Hornets are looking for their 15th manager since the Pozzo family bought the club in 2012.

Italian Ranieri is best known in England for guiding Leicester City to a fairy-tale Premier League title in 2016 but he has failed to work his magic since.

At Fulham, he was axed after just 106 days in charge in 2019, with the club eventually relegated from the Premier League after his dismissal.

Ranieri's Watford reign started ominously after Liverpool thrashed them 5-0 in his first game.

Amid talk of player unrest at his methods, Watford's 4-1 win against Manchester United in November was Ranieri's second and final victory with the club. But the win was notable because it triggered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking.

Watford was Ranieri's fourth spell in the Premier League. In addition to Fulham, Leicester and Watford, he also worked at Chelsea.

Watford will hope to have a new manager in place in time for their crucial showdown at fellow strugglers Burnley on Feb 5. They have been linked with Diego Martinez, a Spaniard who left his job as Granada boss last May.

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