Sunderland have parted company with manager Steve Bruce, skysports.com understands.
Black Cats wield the axe as manager shown exit door
Sunderland have parted company with manager Steve Bruce.
Bruce has left the Wearside club after talks with owner Ellis Short, and his sacking comes with the club sat in 16th - just two places above the Premier League drop-zone.
Home fans reacted with fury at the weekend's loss to relegation rivals Wigan - which has led Short to make the decision.
The 50-year-old has been with Sunderland since June 2009, when he left Wigan to take up the reigns at the Stadium of Light.
Bruce's assistant Eric Black has been placed in caretaker charge and is likely to be in charge for this weekend's match with Wolves.
Sunderland chairman Short released a statement confirming that Bruce's near two-and-a-half year stint at the club was over.
"This has been a difficult time for everyone at Sunderland and is not a situation that any of us envisaged or expected to be in," said Short.
"It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly.
"Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.
"Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland.
"I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two and a half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.
"I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our club and is vital as we now look to the future."
A number of names are already being linked with the job, with Sky Bet
installing Martin O'Neill as the early favourite, with Mark Hughes also strongly tipped.