Watford have sacked manager Marco Silva, saying the “unwarranted approach” from Premier League rivals Everton was “the catalyst” for the decision.
The Portuguese had been a target for the Toffees earlier in the campaign after an excellent start, but a run of one win in 11 matches has now cost him his job.
A statement from the club on Sunday morning read: “This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly. The club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.”
“For the security and success of the football club, the board believes it has to make a change.
“The club will seek to make a swift appointment and there will be no further comment until that appointment has been made.”
The Hornets won four of their opening eight top-flight games this term, but have struggled of late – a problem the club have clearly put down to links with the Everton job following Ronald Koeman’s dismissal in late October.
Koeman was among the early contenders with the bookmakers to replace Silva, along with former Manchester City bosses Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini. Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca, 67-year-old Argentinian Jose Lopez and Beijing Guoan’s German boss Roger Schmidt were also in the frame.