Preston have sacked manager Alan Irvine – little more than six months after he guided them into the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs.
The former Everton assistant boss has won many admirers since being appointed at Deepdale in November 2007 and they claimed a top-six finish last season.
Yet the Lancashire outfit have struggled badly in recent weeks and chairman Derek Shaw decided to swing the axe after yesterday’s 1-0 loss at Sheffield United left North End with just one win in their last 10 league outings.
Shaw said: “The decision was not taken lightly. Alan did an extremely good job in keeping us in the Championship and took us to the play-offs last season.
“However, after a good start to the 2009/10 campaign we have only picked up seven points from a possible 30 since our last away victory against Sheffield Wednesday on October 20.
“In that period we have only scored six goals and that sort of record is not something we could allow to continue without addressing it.”
Preston lie 16th in the Championship - eights points from both the play-off places and relegation zone - and operate with one of the smallest budgets in the division.
They face Colchester at home in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Shaw, who is currently putting together an interim management team for that game, paid tribute to Irvine for his efforts.
“I would like to place on record the club’s sincere thanks to Alan for his efforts in his time here,” he said.
“We will make further comment and announce who is in charge for the weekend’s FA Cup tie later this week.”