Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, one of only two men to mastermind victory over Manchester City in the league this season following Spurs' convincing 3-0 triumph at White Hart Lane in midweek, admitted he was baffled by the decision to part with Mark Hughes.
"I couldn't believe it really. [I'm] disappointed. They've lost two games this season - away to Man United in the last minute and then they got beat at Tottenham in the week," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.
"Two defeats is certainly not a disaster. They've got a game in hand and they were sitting just off the [Champions League] places.
"I'm really surprised that they've taken that decision at this stage of the season. Mark's a good manager and, given time, there's not doubt they would have been very successful."
Redknapp added that the new wave of foreign owners in English football had skewed expectations and placed increased pressure on managers.
"It's different now. You've got multi-millionaire owners who all want to be number one, and the more that come into the game, they're not going to understand that they can't all win," he said.
"In their life they've made so much money and they do what they want with their lives because they're so rich, and they'll expect to win. The more that come in, the more you are going to see managers come and go. The merry-go-round will be even worse because they're all disappointed they're not top of the league. They won't understand it."
"I spoke to Mark last night and he found out immediately after the game when he was called into a meeting and informed that his contract was being terminated, but I think the decision had probably been taken some time ago," League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan told Sportsweek.
"I think Mark and everybody else in this country realises that you can't buy trophies in one season.
"If they [overseas owners] feel that, then we'll continue with the sackings and we'll continue with affinity lost to our clubs in England, because I'm pretty sure the Manchester City fans will be sorry to see Mark go.
"If you come in as an overseas owner, you need to embrace the city, the supporters, not just the trophy cabinet."
Former City player and director Dennis Tueart believes Hughes was hamstrung by expectations and egos, but concedes the timing of the announcement came as a surprise.
Tueart told Sportsweek: "The timing appears to be a bit strange - we're going into a new transfer window, just out of the top-four positions in the league at the moment.
"It takes time to build, but the big problem Mark was always going to have was [managing] a tremendous amount of egos in the dressing room. His challenge was going to be blending and getting sides motivated, and getting them to perform.
"Whilst he only lost two, he had so many draws. If he had converted two of those draws into wins it would have been a different situation."
He added: "I'm hoping that they [the City board] have thought through the strategy for what they are trying to get from Roberto Mancini. While he has done pretty well at Inter, he'll take a little bit of settling in. I'm assuming they've made this change now so that Roberto Mancini can do something in the transfer window."