Gus Poyet has been sacked by Sunderland, with just nine games of their faltering Barclays Premier League season left.
The Uruguayan has been in charge at the Stadium of Light for 17 months after taking over from Paolo Di Canio, but the club have now confirmed he has been dismissed after crisis talks on Monday.
Poyet, who oversaw a shambolic 4-0 home defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday, took training at the Academy of Light before being told of his fate, leaving the Black Cats just a point above the relegation zone with just four wins all season.
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 statement added that an announcement about Poyet’s successor would be made “in due course”.
With time running short, and a trip to West Ham on Saturday, the club are expected to act quickly.
Sunderland are likely to opt for a short-term fix at this stage of the season before re-evaluating in the summer depending on their league status and experienced Dutchman Dick Advocaat is the early favourite.
The 67-year-old has managed Holland twice, worked for four years at Rangers and left his previous post in charge of Serbia last year.
Should he take the reins he 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.
He was sacked that September after his early impact wore off.
Poyet 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.