Watford have sacked manager Marco Silva, blaming Everton’s approach for the Portuguese in November as the “catalyst for this decision”.
The Hornets have won one of their last 11 top-flight games and are 10th in the Premier League.
A Watford statement said they were “convinced the appointment of Silva” last summer “was the right one”.
And, without “the unwarranted approach” they would have “continued to prosper under his leadership”.
The statement added: “This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly.
“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 has been jeopardised.”
The Hornets were beaten 2-0 by Leicester City on Saturday to leave them five points above the relegation zone.
Prior to Everton’s approach for Silva, Watford had won four, drawn three and lost four from 11 league games.
Since then the Vicarage Road club has won three, drawn two and lost eight of 13 top-flight outings.
More to follow.