- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Watford will start a Premier League season with a new manager for the third straight year after announcing the departure of Walter Mazzarri on Wednesday, following a slump in form and amid reports of dressing-room unrest.

The Italian coach will step down from his position after Watford’s final game of the season, at home against Manchester City in the league on Sunday. Mazzarri is 11 months into his three-year deal at the club.

Watford cannot be relegated, but has lost its last five games to drop to 16th place in the 20-team league. Mazzarri, whose poor grasp of English has led to communication problems with his players and the public, has come under increasing pressure because of the team’s defensive style and his selection decisions.

Captain and top scorer Troy Deeney, for example, has been in and out of the side in recent weeks.

Since the Pozzo family from Italy bought the club in 2012, Watford has had a vast turnover of players - many on loan - and hired seven managers. Mazzarri was arguably the most high-profile, having arrived in England with a strong reputation after spells in charge of Inter Milan and Napoli.

Watford took the decision following a meeting with Mazzarri to discuss “the club’s future goals and aspirations,” chairman Scott Duxbury said in a short statement on Watford’s website.

The club - based just north of London - made a similar statement about a year ago in announcing the firing of Quique Sanchez Flores, who led Watford to the FA Cup semifinals and a 13th-place finish in the Premier League.

His predecessor, Slavisa Jokanovic, left Watford soon after guiding the team back into the Premier League for the 2015-16 season.

Next season will Watford’s third in a row in England’s lucrative top division.

Among the British bookmakers’ favorites to take over from Mazzarri are Hull manager Marco Silva, whose team has just been relegated from the Premier League, and Claudio Ranieri, who was fired by Leicester in February less than a year after guiding the unheralded team to the Premier League title.


Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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