MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Alex McLeish has been sacked by Aston Villa, less than 24 hours after the end of his first season in charge.
The Scot was an unpopular appointment among many Villa fans after he took neighbours Birmingham down last season and although he avoided a second successive relegation this term, it was not enough to save his job.
A winless run stretching to nine matches saw Villa finish just two points clear of the drop and McLeish's fate was confirmed on Monday following talks with senior club officials.
Villa chairman Randy Lerner said: "We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years.
"Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent.
"The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."
Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner added: "We'd like to thank Alex for his hard work and efforts throughout this tough season.
"We are mindful of the club's need to prepare thoroughly for the new campaign and for the new manager to be able to begin working with the board so that he is quickly immersed in these preparations and also in the long-term objectives of the club.
"Our focus now will be driven by these imperatives and we will update when appropriate."
Sections of the Villa support again called for the former Birmingham boss to be axed as Villa ended the campaign just two points clear of the bottom three.
McLeish had to contend with slashing the wage bill, which he described as "astronomical", and was deprived of several key players through injury or illness.
The likes of record signing Darren Bent, key defender Richard Dunne and skipper Stiliyan Petrov have been sidelined for lengthy spells and McLeish has had to put the accent on youth.McLeish always stressed it would be a season of transition after replacing Gerard Houllier last summer, but it was still a surprise that Villa only made sure of survival last weekend.
Their tally of 38 points in finishing 16th is actually one less than when McLeish was relegated with Birmingham at the end of last season.
Villa have also encountered their worst season in their history in terms of their home record in registering just four wins.