Claude Puel early favourite for Watford job after shock Nigel Pearson sacking

Claude Puel is the early favourite to take over as Watford's next head coach in transit.

But the 13th managerial appointment in eight years at Vicarage Road will hinge on the Hornets surviving their tightrope to Premier League survival.

Puel's whispering tone and calm manner guided both Southampton and Leicester to top-half finishes, although he was rewarded with the sack at both clubs.

And the Frenchman is 9-4 front runner with bookies to take over from Nigel Pearson, who was unceremoniously fired on Sunday.

Hayden Mullins straps into the cockpit for his second spell as caretaker against Manchester City on Tuesday evening, fortified by a good-luck message from Pearson.

His hospital pass is a fixture where City have won the last 12 in a row, scoring 46 goals.

Mullins said: “I texted Nige yesterday, tried to ring him and missed him. He tried to call me back and missed me, but he left me a voice message and I'm sure we'll catch up.”

Pearson's treatment at a club with a hard-earned reputation for spinning head coaches through the revolving door was branded “an absolutely ridiculous, ridiculous decision” by Mirror Sport columnist Robbie Savage.

Watford made history by becoming the first Premier League club to sack three managers in the same season after Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores walked the plank in the first half of the campaign.

But Mullins does not care if that makes the Hornets unpopular with neutrals, saying: “The way the club is set up and the way they do business is up to them.

“I've got a job to do over the next two games – I've got no influence on decisions made above me.”

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