Derby boss Davies leaves Pride Park
Derby chairman Adam Pearson insists whoever the board appoint to replace Billy Davies, who left his job as manager this morning, must believe they can keep the club in the Premier League.
The Rams have looked short of the class required to win games in the top flight since winning promotion via the play-offs last term and Davies, who departed Pride Park by a mutual arrangement following a meeting with Pearson, repeatedly admitted he needed substantial reinforcements to be competitive.
But Pearson, who intends to get the recruitment process under way immediately, wants such talk to be consigned to the past and has charged the Scot's successor with a survival mission - not one of damage limitation.
'We expect to have a shortlist as early as today and a replacement in place shortly,' he told Sky Sports News. 'We're looking for someone with passion for winning games, with pride in this football club and someone looking for an opportunity at one of the biggest clubs in the country.
'There is no timescale but it needs to happen sooner rather than later. I want to save our Premier League status this year and I've just told the players that.
'I don't want to hear any more about them not being good enough to compete at this level. They are and I want to see that on Saturday (at Sunderland).'
Davies took over as County boss in June 2006 with the side struggling at the wrong end of the Championship and although he leaves them a division higher their return of one win and six points from their first 14 games was not enough.
Pearson, who was the subject of some thinly-veiled criticisms from Davies after the club's 2-0 reverse to Chelsea at the weekend, nevertheless paid testimony to his achievements.
'Billy would be one of the best managers to get us back up (if relegation happened) and I'm sure there will be Premier League and Championship clubs looking at him to do that.
'But there comes a watershed between club and manager where it is time to move on. There was an ongoing investment issue which kept cropping up - he feels it is time to move on and we, as a board, think so too.
'It was a very difficult decision because he is a very professional manager and he did a very professional job here.
'He is a good manager, there's no doubt about it but this club will be going forward with a new one.'
Former Preston boss Davies, meanwhile, insisted he left his post full of pride at a job well done.
'All I've got to do is thank the players and staff for wonderful support and thank the Derby County fans for what has been a fantastic time for me, the players and the club alike,' he said.
'I'd also like to wish the club the very best for the future. I've said my bit over the weekend and at this time I'm very, very proud of what has been achieved. I'm walking out with head held high.
'And Billy Davies will certainly bounce back as a much better manager for this experience.'
Kevin Thelwell, the club's academy director, will take charge of the side against Sunderland assisted by goalkeeping coach Alan Fettis and senior players Matt Oakley and Darren Moore after the majority of Davies' back-room staff also left the club.