Gianfranco Zola has resigned as manager of Watford after 17 months in charge of the Championship side.

After making an impressive start to life at Vicarage Road last season, guiding the club to the play-off final, Zola's side failed to reproduce the same form this term.

Watford have lost five consecutive home games, failing to record a win since October, and have subsequently dropped from fifth to 13th in the table.

The poor run of form prompted the Italian, 47, to consider his position and ultimately decided his exit was 'in the best interests of the team'.

He added:
 "It is for a variety of reasons, and not just over one matter or one moment, that I feel this is the right decision for me, in the best interests of the club - and I know I can trust you, the supporters, to respect my decision fully."

Zola was hired in July 2012 by the Pozzo family, who also own Spanish side Granada and Italian side Udinese.

Last season Watford were assisted by 10 loan signings from the Italian side over the course of the season, and new rules restricting the number of loans from abroad has been attributed to Watford's struggles this season.

It was the former Chelsea player's second managerial job in England, having previously managed West Ham. He was sacked by the Hammers after finishing 17th in the Premier League, although they were relegated the following season.

Two of Zola's former Chelsea colleagues have been linked with the vacancy already - recently sacked Steve Clarke, Zola's assistant at West Ham, and Roberto Di Matteo have been listed as the early favourites, alongside Ian Holloway and Owen Coyle.

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Gianfranco Zola
Roberto Di Matteo