Watford are searching for their ninth manager in five years after confirming the premature end of Walter Mazzarri’s reign.
Hull boss Marco Silva and title-winning former Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri are among the early favourites to replace Mazzarri, who is to leave after Sunday’s final Premier League fixture against Manchester City.
The former Inter Milan coach is to depart after just one season despite signing a three-year contract in July and keeping Watford in the top flight. They currently lie 16th, six points above the relegation zone.
“After the board discussed with Walter Mazzarri the club’s future goals and aspirations, it was decided he will be stepping down from his position as the club’s head coach after the final game of the 2016-17 season,” said chairman Scott Duxbury.
“We thank Walter and his staff for the contribution they have made to Watford Football Club over the past year.”
His abrupt exit at Vicarage Road follows the similarly brief tenures of his two predecessors, Quique Sanchez Flores and Slavisa Jokanovic.
Sanchez Flores’ reward for leading Watford to Premier League safety and an FA Cup semi-final was to be sacked after one season, while Jokanovic was axed after less than a year, despite masterminding the Hornets’ promotion from the Championship.
Mazzarri is the eighth different manager to depart since the Pozzo family took control of the club in the summer of 2012.
The 55-year-old made a promising start to the season, with a run of six wins in 12 games that included the scalps of Manchester United and champions Leicester.
But their form dipped in December and, although they avoided severe relegation worries, Monday’s 4-3 defeat at Chelsea was their ninth loss in the last 13 league fixtures.
Mazzarri was also plagued by rumours of unrest in the squad, fuelled by the repeated demotion of captain Troy Deeney to the substitute’s bench.