Watford have sacked head coach Claudio Ranieri in the wake of their 3-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Norwich City.

The embarrassing loss was the final straw for club chiefs, who had become increasingly concerned about the Italian's record, which ends with just two wins and a draw from 14 games in all competitions.

While it has taken three days for his departure to be finalised, the writing was on the wall as soon as the final whistle was blown at Vicarage Road on Friday night.

Ranieri fought his corner in his post match press conference and said that it was a change of mentality that was required, rather than personnel.

However, sources close to the Italian told the Watford Observer on Sunday evening that the 70-year-old was expecting to be shown the exit, along with his backroom staff.

His departure was confirmed tonight with a statement from the club describing him as "a man of great integrity and honour".

It reads: "Watford Football Club confirms the departure of Head Coach Claudio Ranieri.

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.

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."

Ranieri is now the second head coach to be sacked this season, after he replaced Xisco Munoz in October.

It leaves the Hornets looking for a seventh head coach since 2018.

The last time Watford were in the Premier League, they sacked three head coaches, with Javi Gracia, Quique Sanchez Flores and Nigel Pearson all removed before the end of the season.

They were unable to retain their top flight status then, with relegation confirmed away at Arsenal on the final day of the campaign.

Things could end similarly for Watford this season if they are now unable to bring in someone to provide some much-needed stability in the side.

Friday's loss to Norwich plunged them into the relegation zone for the first time this season and with tricky games against West Ham, Brighton, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Arsenal lurking beyond another huge relegation six pointer against Burnley on February 5, whoever is appointed will have to hit the ground running if they are to climb back out any time soon.

World cup winning Italian defender, and former China and Guangzhou Evergrande boss, Fabio Cannavaro is understood to have distanced himself from the now vacant position.

The 48-year-old attended a match at Vicarage Road earlier this season and has a good relationship with the Pozzos, but is not thought to be interested in taking over at this point.

Frank Lampard has also been linked with the position.