Newcastle United are looking for a new manager after parting company with Sam Allardyce on Wednesday afternoon.
The former Bolton Wanderes boss spent just eight months in the job after being appointed by Freddy Shepherd at the end of last season.
But while new owner Mike Ashley stood by the 53-year-old after his £134m summer takeover of the club, rumours of his demise persistently circled St James' Park as the Geordies slumped into the bottom half of the Premier League despite a promising start to the campaign.
The decision to change manager clearly came as a surprise to Allardyce, who said: 'I'm disappointed obviously but I'd just like to wish everybody at Newcastle all the best for the future and I hope things go very, very well.
'Yes it was a shock, I didn't expect it.'
Allardyce launched his tenure in fine style with a 3-1 victory at former club Bolton on the opening day of the season and went unbeaten for five games.
But a dreadful 1-0 defeat at struggling Derby County on September 17 set the alarm bells ringing and more recently, abject defeats at home to Liverpool and away at Wigan seem to have sealed his fate.
Every time Newcastle failed to produce results, or much attacking intent on the road, Mike Ashley, who often watched the matches from the stands, was surrounded by fans calling for Big Sam's head.
And all the while, the shadow of Alan Shearer loomed large with many supporters telling Ashley their prodigal son was the only man who could reverse the club's fortune.
The former England skipper is out of the country at the moment but speculation is sure to reach fever pitch in the coming days as to whether he will take the job. He is already 4-6 with the bookies to get the job.
Jose Mourinho's name has also been mentioned in recent days on Tyneside, though that may be more in hope than expectation.
Allardyce took training as usual on Wednesday morning and held his normal press conference in the afternoon, rebuffing claims that Steven Taylor and Obafemi Martins were the subject of bids from rival Premier League clubs.
An official statement on said: 'Newcastle United have today parted company with Sam Allardyce as its Manager with immediate effect.
'This decision has been reached by mutual consent.'
Newcastle United Chairman Chris Mort said: 'Mike and I would like to place on record our thanks for Sam's efforts and wish him well for the future.
'A new manager has not yet been appointed at Newcastle United. We will make a further announcement on the managerial position when appropriate.
Sam Allardyce said: 'I am disappointed to be leaving Newcastle United but I wish the club all the best for the remainder of the season and for the future.'
First team coach Nigel Pearson will take charge of Saturday's game at Manchester United.'
Allardyce spent just 24 games as Toon boss, but the Magpies had only won one game in the last six.
Woeful displays at home to Liverpool and away at Wigan had the loyal Toon Army voicing their disquiet, but after avoiding defeat at Stoke in the FA Cup third round on Sunday it appeared Allardyce had weathered the storm.
And many will question the time of this sacking and the way it was handled with Big Sam apparently unaware of the move up until around 5pm this evening.
Big Sam is the sixth manager to be sacked since Kevin Keegan's triumphant reign ended in January