Gus Poyet has been sacked by relegation-threatened Sunderland, leaving the Black Cats racing against time to appoint a replacement for the last nine games of the season.
The Uruguayan departs the Stadium of Light 17 months after taking over from Paolo Di Canio’s turbulent regime, with the team just a point above the drop zone.
The final straw for Poyet was Saturday’s shambolic 4-0 home defeat by Aston Villa.
Poyet took training for the final time at the Academy of Light on Monday before being told of his fate, ending his stay on Wearside after 75 games and just 23 wins.
Chairman Ellis Short released a short statement via the club’s official website, confirming the decision.
In it he made reference to Poyet’s successful fight against the drop last term, as well as an unexpected run to the Capital One Cup final, but expressed disappointment at slipping once again into a survival scrap.
“I would like to thank Gus for his endeavours during his time at the club, in particular last season’s ‘great escape’ and cup final appearance, which will live long in the memory of every Sunderland fan,” said Short.
“Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season and we find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table. We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed.”
The club are expected to act quickly and experienced Dutchman Dick Advocaat was quickly installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to take over, but the club are also thought to be considering an internal appointment to see out the campaign.
Kevin Ball previously performed the role of caretaker manager on three occasions and may be asked to help out again, while development coach Paul Bracewell is another who could be considered.
Whoever comes in would be presented with a similar problem to the one that greeted Di Canio when he arrived two years ago.
The controversial Italian had even less time to secure top-flight status, but collected eight points from seven games to do the job.
Sunderland had four more points then than their current haul of 26, but the survival threshold is likely to be low this term.
As for Poyet he now joins the likes of Di Canio, Martin O’Neill, Steve Bruce and Ricky Sbragia in failing to turn around Sunderland’s fortunes in recent years.
Poyet’s season took a turn for the worse in February when he appeared to blame unrealistic expectations among the club’s fans for the ongoing struggles.
Sections of the crowd vocally took against such an implication and Poyet later claimed the media had mis-represented his words.
The 46-year-old sang a different song after the weekend mauling at the hands of Villa, one of a handful of strugglers who have benefited from a managerial change in the form of Tim Sherwood.
Speaking after what was to be his last game in charge, Poyet said: “I am responsible. I am one of the few in football nowadays, I am honest.
“When things go right, I tell you I am responsible, and when things go wrong, I tell you I am responsible. I don’t pick and choose.”