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Claudio Ranieri fired as Watford head coach

Tim Howard and Robbie Mustoe break down a remarkable victory for Norwich City, as the Canaries breathed life into their survival bid behind a Josh Sargent double.

Claudio Ranieri has been fired as Watford head coach after just 14 games and less than four months in charge at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

This firing was fast, even by Watford’s standards, and they are now searching for a third manager this season.

Ranieri, 70, was hired in early October after Xisco Munoz was fired after he picked up seven points from his first seven games of the Premier League season.

But the veteran Italian coach only picked up seven points from his 13 PL games in charge (losing 11 of his 14 games in all competitions) He had two wins as Watford boss, as they battered Everton and Manchester United, but that was nowhere near enough.

Watford have lost seven of their last eight games in the Premier League and after their shocking 3-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Norwich City last Friday, they dropped into the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Statement from Watford

“Watford Football Club confirms the departure of Head Coach Claudio Ranieri. The Hornets’ Board recognizes Claudio as a man of great integrity and honor, who will always be respected here at Vicarage Road for his efforts in leading the team with dignity.

“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 work with a talented squad to achieve the immediate goal of retaining Premier League status.

“No further club comment will be made until this new appointment is confirmed in due course.”

Who next?

This is the question we usually ask about twice a season for Watford. Even when they’re doing well.

The Pozzo Family are ruthless with their decision making and they believe in changing head coaches early and often to try and get results.

Watford have a chance of staying up, they really do. Their squad is full of talented players, especially in midfield and attack, but they have to improve defensively if they’re going to stay up.

Rafael Benitez, recently fired by Everton, has been reported to be among the frontrunners for the position. So too has Frank Lampard, Paulo Fonseca and Fabio Cannavaro. An intriguing name to keep an eye on is Diego Martinez. The former Granada coach (the Pozzo family also own Granada in Spain and Udinese in Italy) is being considered and he worked wonders with the southern Spanish club before a dip in form this season.

What next?

Watford rarely appoint big names like Ranieri, and it will be intriguing to see what direction they now go in to try and save themselves.

They have four winnable games coming up against Burnley, West Ham, Brighton and Aston Villa right after the mini winter break in the Premier League, so there’s an opportunity for a manager to get off to a flying start.

Whoever comes in knows it will be tough to keep Watford up (and to keep their job longer than 12 months), but there is almost a mini-league at the bottom of the table as three teams from Norwich, Watford, Newcastle and Burnley are highly-likely to be the relegated clubs this season.

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