Burnley sacked manager Sean Dyche, the Premier League club said on Friday, ahead of a tight end-of-season run-in as it looks to avoid relegation.
Burnley has struggled this season and sits in 18th place in the standings, four points from the safety zone. But the decision was unexpected, given Dyche's track record of maintaining the Lancashire club's status in the top division on a relatively modest budget.
He was the longest-serving English top flight manager having been in charge for nine-and-a-half years.
Burnley Football Club can confirm the Club has parted company with manager Sean Dyche, assistant manager Ian Woan, first-team coach Steve Stone and goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer.— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) April 15, 2022
"We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Sean and his staff for their achievements at the club over the last decade," chairman Alan Pace said in a statement.
"During his time at Turf Moor, Sean has been a credit both on and off the pitch, respected by players, staff, supporters, and the wider football community.
"However, results this season have been disappointing and, while this was an incredibly difficult decision, with eight crucial games of the campaign remaining, we feel a change is needed to give the squad the best possible chance of retaining its Premier League status."
U23s coach Mike Jackson, assisted by academy director Paul Jenkins, U23s goalkeeping coach Connor King and club captain Ben Mee have been asked to take charge of the team for Sunday's game with West Ham United.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
During Dyche's tenure at the club, Burnley was promoted twice from the Championship, achieved two top-half Premier League finishes and qualified for Europe for the first time in 51 years.
All of that was done with one of the lowest transfer budgets and wage structures in the Premier League.
While other clubs in the relegation battle regularly splash the cash in order to secure their survival - Everton, one place above Burnley - have spent over 200 million pounds ($261 million) in the last three seasons - Dyche has never had such a luxury.
The club's record signing, Ben Gibson, was just over 15 million pounds.
With Dyche's side struggling for goals this term, Burnley sold top striker Chris Wood, a key figure in preserving the club's Premier League status over the past few seasons, to relegation rivals Newcastle United in January.
Poor early season form left Burnley staring at the prospect of their six-year Premier League stay coming to an end.
Yet back-to-back victories in mid-February, plus their crucial win over fellow strugglers Everton two weeks ago seemed to give them a fighting chance.
Defeat at bottom side Norwich City last weekend, however, proved to be the final straw and now the club must look for someone to inspire them in the final eight games this term.
($1 = 0.7652 pounds)
(Reporting by Peter HallEditing by Toby Davis and John Stonestreet)