Roberto Di Matteo has been “relieved of his duties” at West Bromwich Albion by chairman Jeremy Peace at the Hawthorns, following a run of 13 defeats in the sides last 18 games.
But where now for the Baggies, after an alarming slide down the Premier League table?
Di Matteo took the reins at the Hawthorns following Tony Mowbray’s defection to SPL giants Celtic in the summer of 2009, and guided West Brom to promotion from the Championship in his only full season at the club, the club finishing second behind Newcastle United.
This season they made a good start to life in the Premier League, briefly being found in the top four in October after a victory over Fulham, but a terrible run of results has seen them plummet down the table, currently lying in 17th place, outside the relegation zone merely on goal difference.
“We, as a board, believe it is the right one to give the club the best possible chance of remaining in the Premier League” said Peace.
“Our poor sequence of results stretches back more than three months and there has been little sign of it coming to an end.
“If this run continues much longer, achieving our goal of retaining our Premier League status will become increasingly difficult – That is why we felt compelled to act now.
“This club’s track record proves we do not take such decisions lightly, with Roberto being only our fourth manager or head coach in almost 11 years.
“We now begin the search to find a new head coach who will fit into our existing set-up and work under our sporting and technical director, Dan Ashworth, with a view to taking the club forward.”
So where now for the Baggies, the Premier League’s entertaining yo-yo side, with an array of technically talented players, but with a backbone made of glass?
Well in the immediate future first team coach Michael Appleton, a former Albion player before knee injuries cut short his playing career, will take charge of first team affairs.
And with games against West Ham United, Birmingham City, Stoke City and the Black Country derby with Wolverhampton Wanderers coming up, if Appleton does well then he could keep the job until the end of the season.
He knows the club inside out, is a favourite with the board, the fans and the players ,so could prove to be a logical fit.
However, perhaps the Baggies board would prefer to bring someone in from the outside to shake the place up a bit. Someone different, to add a different impetus, fresh ideas.
But the key here is that they must fit into the system already in place at the Hawthorns.
And that is that the man coming in will need to be prepared to be a Head Coach and not a Manager. It is basically a pre-requisite for any potential applicant that they are someone who will work in tandem with the Sporting and Technical Director, Ashworth, in the set-up that already exists.
Therefore, if Albion fans think that their chairman is going to bring in the kind of hands-on manager, like the former Bolton Wanderers & Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce or Martin O’Neill, who left Midland rivals Aston Villa prior to the start of the season, then they are very much mistaken.
Firstly because both would want to be in total charge at the Hawthorns, thus making Ashworth surplus to requirements.
Yet, Peace is a big fan of the ‘continental’ way of running the club and sees Ashworth as an indispensible liasion between the coaching staff, the scouting network and the clubs board.
Moreover, both Allardyce and O’Neill would almost certainly want to be backed with considerable funds, both in terms of transfers and the breaking of the clubs wage structure, something that the prudent Peace certainly won’t allow for, and both would certainly want the final say on transfers, again, something that resides with Ashworth.
More logical appointments would be someone like Sean O’Driscoll, who has done terrific things at Doncaster Rovers, Gustavo Poyet the Brighton manager (although Poyet has total control on the south coast and has built an impressive outfit and may not want to leave when on the verge of winning the League One title), or a manager from further afield with a background in European football, who has experience working under the continental system that Peace employs – maybe even the former Albion player, former Spurs boss Martin Jol.
However, what anyone who comes in at the Hawthorns will find is that they have a mammoth task in steering the club away from the drop zone, with confidence almost certainly as low as it has been at any point this season.
Albion have become the definitive yo-yo club in recent times – as promotion or relegation in seven of the last 10 seasons clearly shows – but surely the dismissal of the Italian with the impressive demeanour, has only enhanced their chances of keeping hold of that tag.