Claudio Ranieri set to become next Watford manager after Xisco Munoz leaves

Claudio Ranieri is already hot favourite to leap into the vacant Watford manager's seat, as the Hornets look for a 17th new boss in just over 10 years.

The former Leicester boss, who most recently led Sampdoria to ninth in Serie A, appears to be so nailed on for the role that most bookies have already closed the book on him taking the job.

Former Granada boss Diego Martinez is second favourite, then a long list of the usual suspects at odds greater that 10/1, including Paulo Fonseca, Eddie Howe and Frank Lampard.

Following the Munoz departure, Watford said in a statement that recent results "strongly indicate a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving".

Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Leeds left the club with seven points from a possible 21. Since beating Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, the club's only other league victory came against bottom side Norwich last month.

Munoz, who took charge at Vicarage Road last December, had successfully guided the club back to the top flight with a second-placed finish in the Championship last season.

Yet he has become the latest to pay the price for a downturn in form by joining a long list of managers whose tenure at the club has proved short-lived.

A club statement read: "Watford FC confirms Xisco Munoz 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."

Former Valencia and Real Betis winger Munoz, 41, succeeded the sacked Vladimir Ivic when he left his role at Georgian club Dinamo Tbilisi.

The club had been fifth in the Championship at the time but were criticised by fans for their overly-defensive tactics.

Munoz fulfilled his brief to guide the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking but performances this term have been unimpressive.

Diego Llorente scored the only goal at Elland Road as Leeds claimed their first win of the season at their expense on Saturday.

After the game, Munoz admitted his side had failed to match Leeds' intensity.

"They won all the duels, they shoot more times than us and they wanted to win the game more than us," he said.

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