Dean Smith has been sacked as manager of Aston Villa after suffering five successive Premier League defeats.
The 50-year-old, who was a boyhood Villans supporter, led the club to promotion back into the top tier in 2018-19 and oversaw a stunning push for survival last season.
Much was expected in the current campaign, despite parting with Jack Grealish in a record-breaking £100 million (4135m) deal, but Villa have slipped to within two points of the relegation zone.
CEO Christian Purslow said, with a 1-0 reversal against Southampton proving to be the final straw for Smith: “When Dean joined us in October 2018 our team was really struggling in The Championship. He immediately transformed the atmosphere and performances and achieved the ultimate success of leading Villa back to the Premier League within the same season – a rare feat.“He then secured our place in the Premier League after a tough campaign and took us to a Cup Final at Wembley.“However, after a good start to last season, this year we have not seen the continuous improvement in results, performances and league position which we have all been looking for. For this reason, we have decided to make a change now to allow time for a new head coach to make an impact.
“The Board would like to sincerely thank Dean for his many excellent achievements, on and off the pitch, during this time. Everyone knows how much Aston Villa means to Dean and his family. He has represented the Club with distinction and dignity – universally liked and respected by everybody associated with Aston Villa – our staff, players and supporters alike. We wish him the very best.”In total, across three years with Villa, Smith oversaw 139 games in charge of the club.He collected 55 wins from those contests, but also suffered 56 defeats and has been unable to find the spark that an ambitious outfit are crying out for.