Claudio Ranieri is expected to become the Watford manager, according to a number of sources.
After Xisco Munoz was axed at Vicarage Road this weekend, the Hornets are looking for their 13th permanent manager since owners the Pozzo family took control in 2012.
And the 69-year-old former Chelsea boss, who was nicknamed ‘The Tinkerman’, is in pole position.
His first game in charge is likely to be the Premier League home game against Liverpool on October 16.
Ranieri steered 5000/1 shots Leicester to the most improbable of all Premier League titles in 2016, in what remains the crowning glory of a lengthy managerial career.
Ranieri endured a tough spell at Fulham in 2019 in his last foray in England. He won just three of his 17 matches at Craven Cottage before being replaced by assistant Scott Parker.
But now Watford’s board believe Ranieri is the right man to kick-start the Hornets’ season after just two wins in seven matches in the new top-flight campaign.
Munoz had only been in charge at Vicarage Road for 10 months. He led the club back to the Premier League, when he was unseated by Watford’s bosses on Sunday.
He picked up the pieces from Vladimir Ivic and led them to second place in the Championship in 2020-2021 behind Norwich City.
But, whereas the Canaries have stuck with Daniel Farke despite Norwich’s poor start to the campaign, Watford have pulled the trigger.
Watford pulled the trigger
Watford’s statement read: “Watford FC confirms Xisco Muñoz has left his post as the club’s Head Coach. The Board feels recent performances strongly indicate a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving.
“The Hornets will always be grateful to Xisco for the part he played in securing last season’s promotion. And wish him well for his future career in football.
“No further club comment will be available until the imminent announcement of a new Head Coach.”
The Hornets have managed league wins over Aston Villa and Norwich. But four losses and a draw elsewhere proved enough for the club hierarchy to make an early change.
Ranieri left Sampdoria at the end of last season and has been out of work since. But he is now preparing to make his Premier League return.