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Premier League: Ranieri on borrowed time with Watford

Watford slipped into the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season following Friday's dismal home defeat to fellow strugglers Norwich City, and the writing could now be on the wall for head coach Claudio Ranieri.

The 3-0 loss at Vicarage Road means Watford have now picked up just one point from their last eight top-flight matches, and with the club being renowned for being trigger happy when it comes to their managers, Ranieri may be in danger of losing his job.

Early notable wins papered over cracks

In typical Watford fashion, the club parted ways with former boss Xisco Munoz, the man that engineered their immediate promotion back to the Premier League, just seven matches into the season and with the Spaniard having averaged a point a game in the top flight.

Former Chelsea and Leicester City boss Ranieri was chosen as Xisco's replacement, with the club hoping he could deliver the magic that saw him lead the Foxes to the Premier League title in 2016 rather than the struggles he endured during his most recent job in England with Fulham.

Despite being humbled by a rampant Liverpool in his first match in charge, there were some early signs of promise for the Hornets under Ranieri, notably a 5-2 away win at Everton.

The Italian then masterminded Watford's shock 4-1 drubbing of Manchester United on 20th November, a result that ultimately cost Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job.

Watford supporters would have been hoping that result would kickstart a run of victories for the Hornets, but instead they have failed to pick up a single win since.

Ranieri set for the exit door?

The Hornets followed that victory over United with a run of six successive league defeats, and despite arresting that slump with a draw at Newcastle United last weekend, they reached their lowest ebb to date following Friday's loss to Norwich.

With two weeks until their next fixture, which will be another clash with a relegation rival in Burnley, the hierarchy at Vicarage Road may feel now is the time to act by parting ways with Ranieri.

Watford are certainly no strangers to sacking their managers, as Ranieri is the 14th permanent head coach the club have had in place since the Pozzo family took over in June 2012, with one of those, Quique Sanchez Flores, having been in charge twice.

Of those 14, only Gianfranco Zola and Javi Gracia have held the position for more than a year consecutively (Sanchez Flores' two stints did total 15 months).

Some of Watford's previous sackings have caused a stir, but given the run they are on, it would be no surprise by any team's standards if they were to part ways with Ranieri, never mind the Hornets.

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Who could save Watford from the drop?

With two weeks until their next fixture, Watford do have time on their side to appoint a new manager should they decide to bring Ranieri's tenure to an end.

However, there is also just over a week remaining in the transfer window, and any potential new boss would surely want at least some opportunity to bring in his own new recruits.

Watford could also find themselves in a battle with managerless Everton when it comes to head coach candidates, including in the form of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, who has been linked with both positions.

It is possible that the Hornets could turn to the man just let go at Goodison Park, Rafael Benitez, while former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca is also a name that has been mentioned in passing.

Surviving in the Premier League is certainly the number one prerogative for Watford, so perhaps they could go for a man renowned for keeping clubs in the top flight in Sam Allardyce, who remarkably has never been in charge at Vicarage Road.

Stick or twist with Ranieri, Watford certainly need to start picking up points soon.

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