Sunderland confirmed on Wednesday that the club has parted ways with manager Steve Bruce.
Bruce joined the team from Wigan in the summer of 2009, but after winning just two of his first 13 games in league play this season, Bruce has become the first manager to be fired this campaign.
"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," club chairman Ellis Short said.
"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."
The Black Cats were bounced from the Carling Cup by Brighton in the second round in August and are coming off of a 2-1 home defeat to second-from-the- bottom Wigan, leaving them two points above the drop zone.
Sunderland will now begin a search for a new manager with assistant manager Eric Black assuming the role of caretaker boss for the team's trip to Wolverhampton on Sunday.