Ranieri to replace Mazzarri in Watford shooting gallery?
Hornets boss will leave at the end of the season, as the club's owners hunt a ninth manager since 2012
Watford's woes deepened on Wednesday as the club announced that manager Walter Mazzarri will leave after Sunday's final game of the season at home to Manchester City.
The Italian arrived at the Hornets last summer on a three-year deal but his first season in charge has not lived up to the expectations of the club with chairman Scott Duxbury saying he had failed to meet their "discussed goals and aspirations".
In parting company with the 55-year-old Mazzarri, Watford have now gone through eight managers in the five years since the Italian Pozzo family took over the club in 2012 - so by that standard Mazzarri has enjoyed a relatively long tenure at Vicarage Road.
However, the Hornets are 16th in the Premier League, and have faded in the tail end of the season, losing their past five games on the bounce, despite a spirited fight in their 4-3 defeat to champions Chelsea on Monday evening.
According to BBC Sport Mazzarri, who won Napoli the 2012 Copa Italia title and then steered them to a Serie A runners-up spot in 2013, didn't win over sections of the fans and the fact he spoke Italian in his press conferences didn't endear him to the media. In addition "there were reports of player unrest" with his decision to bench captain Troy Deeney proving particularly unpopular.
The Independent says that the squad "had grown fed up with his old-fashioned disciplinarian approach" with too much emphasis on tactical organisation. The paper says that among the leading contenders to replace Mazzarri are former Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, ex-Russia coach Leonid Slutsky and Hull City boss Marco Silva.
There are other possibilities, and The Sun suggests Alan Pardew and Nigel Pearson, but says the 65-year-old Ranieri is the bookies' favourite.
The Italian guided Leicester to a sensational Premier League title 12 months ago but was fired by the Foxes in February after a slump in the champions' form. On the dole since, Ranieri is Sky Sports' tip for the position although their only question mark is whether he would be "willing to work under a owner with such a managerial record after being sacked by the Foxes".