Watford have sacked Marco Silva after a run of one win in five games -- appearing to blame an approach for their coach from Everton for the dip in form that led to the decision -- while sources have told ESPN FC that former Malaga boss Javi Gracia is poised to be appointed as their new manager.
The Hornets have won only one of their last 11 Premier League games, and while they remain in the top half of the table they are now five points above the relegation zone.
The downturn in form coincided with Everton's approach for Silva as their preferred replacement for the sacked Ronald Koeman. Although Silva was refused permission to talk to the Toffees, Watford believe it had a lasting effect on their coach.
Everton's approach was made on Nov. 14, and although Watford won their next two games to sit in eighth -- three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur -- the rot set in after that.
In announcing Silva's departure, the club issued a statement which read: "Watford Football Club has parted company with Marco Silva. This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly.
📝 | #watfordfc has parted company with Marco Silva.— Watford FC (@WatfordFC) January 21, 2018
The Club will seek to make a swift appointment and there will be no further comment until that appointment has been made.
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"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.
"The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised.
"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."
Gracia has been out of work since leaving Rubin Kazan last summer after just one season in charge of the Russian club.
The 47-year-old enjoyed a successful two-year spell at Malaga, guiding them to eighth and ninth placed finishes in La Liga and he has also coached at Osasuna and Almeria and in Greece.
Gracia is well-regarded in Spain and he speaks fluent English, something the Watford board were keen for their new manager to be able to do.
He is expected to sign a two-and-a-half year deal at Vicarage Road and he is set to be given funds to spend in the January transfer window to bring in his own players.
ESPN FC correspondent Peter O'Rourke contributed to this report