Sunderland sacked their manager Gus Poyet on Monday, less than 48 hours after a humbling home loss to fellow Premier League strugglers Aston Villa.
The Uruguayan paid the price for a poor run of results that has left the Black Cats fourth from bottom after Saturday's 4-0 rout, the club's sixth game without a win.
In a statement Sunderland, one point above the relegation zone, announced: "Sunderland AFC have parted company with head coach Gus Poyet this afternoon."
Chairman Ellis Short added: "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.
"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."
With time running short, and a trip to West Ham on Saturday, the club are expected to act quickly to hire a replacement and there were widespread reports on Monday evening that the vastly-experienced Dick Advocaat was travelling to Wearside to discuss the job.
The 67-year-old Dutchman, who has had two stints in charge of his national side and spent four years at Scottish club Rangers, has been out of work since stepping down as Serbia coach in November.
He has won league titles in three countries during his lengthy coaching career, claiming the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven, the Russian Super League with Zenit St Petersburg and two Scottish crowns during his spell at Ibrox.
Advocaat might only be a temporary appointment however, with some reports suggesting West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and Real Madrid assistant coach Paul Clement are top of Sunderland's wish-list for next season.
Poyet was in charge at the Stadium of Light for 17 months, having taken over from Paolo Di Canio.
SIXTH MANAGER TO LEAVE
The 47-year-old former Brighton manager's fortunes had dipped sharply since he pulled off what he termed "a miracle" to keep Sunderland in the top flight last season, engineering four wins in a row to stave off relegation.
The game appeared to be up for the ex-Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder after Saturday's match with angry fans confronting him close to his dug-out before the majority of the 46,000 crowd trudged away long before the final whistle.
Poyet becomes the sixth managerial departure of the current Premier League season, after Neil Warnock (Crystal Palace), Alan Irvine (West Bromwich Albion), Alan Pardew who left Newcastle United to replace Warnock at Palace, Harry Redknapp (Queens Park Rangers) and Paul Lambert (Aston Villa).