Newcastle sack Chris Hughton
Newcastle United have sensationally sacked manager Chris Hughton just over a year after he was appointed the club's boss on a permanent basis.
Hughton, 51, guided the Magpies back to the Premier League at the first time of asking last season as Championship winners, but his position came under scrutiny after the club opted to put talks on a new contract on the back burner.
Shortly afterwards, Hughton led Newcastle to a stunning 5-1 win over north-east rivals Sunderland - a victory that appeared to strengthen his hand, while impressive results also came in the form of an away win at Arsenal and a home draw with Chelsea.
A 3-1 defeat to West Brom on Sunday left the Magpies in 11th place in the league, and the club's board decided to make Hughton the first managerial casualty of this Premier League season, explaining that they are keen to hire a replacement with more experience.
A statement on Newcastle's official website said: "Newcastle United Football Club have today parted company with manager Chris Hughton. Goalkeeping coach Paul Barron also leaves the club today [Monday].
"The board would like to place on record their thanks to Chris for his considerable efforts during the club's transition from Championship to Premier League football. Chris has shown exceptional character and commitment since being appointed manager in October 2009. The club wishes him well for the future.
"Regrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward. The task of appointing a new manager now begins. An announcement will be made shortly regarding transitional arrangements pending the appointment of a successor."
Hughton arrived at Newcastle in February 2008 following a 20-year association with Tottenham. He was appointed as assistant coach to Kevin Keegan by director of football Dennis Wise. He served as caretaker manager when Keegan left, until Joe Kinnear arrived at St James Park in September 2008.
When Kinnear fell ill the following February, Hughton again stepped in, before assisting Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie as Newcastle were relegated. He was placed in caretaker charge in the summer of 2009, with owner Mike Ashley not willing to appoint a permanent boss while he looked to sell the club.
Hughton started so well, though, that the club offered him a permanent deal in October. He then guided United to the Championship title, with the prize wrapped up with two games to spare.
On their return to the top flight, Newcastle have won five of their 16 games so far, with wins including the Sunderland result and a 6-0 triumph over Aston Villa. Recent away results have been disappointing, though, with a 5-1 defeat at Bolton followed by Sunday's loss to West Brom.
Hughton kept his players locked in the dressing room for more than an hour following the defeat, but when he eventually emerged to face the media, he gave no indications of what was to come on Monday.
Magpies' striker Andy Carroll defended Hughton following the defeat, writing on Twitter: "Poor performance today but every team has them - don't jump on Chris, players need to take responsibility as well."
Hughton himself said in a statement he was proud of his achievements.
He said: ''We have built on last season's momentum following promotion back up to the Premier League and have produced some excellent results to see us sitting midway in the table at this stage of the season.
''I am immensely proud of my achievements with Newcastle and I enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the players, my staff and the supporters during my time as manager.
''I now wish them and the club all the very best for the future. The termination of my contract is now in the hands of the LMA and I will therefore be making no further comment at this stage.''
Reserve team coach Peter Beardsley will take charge of the first team, supported by former England midfielder Steve Stone, until a replacement manager is found. Ex-West Ham manager Alan Pardew has emerged as an early favourite, while Martin O'Neill, Norwich boss Paul Lambert and Alan Curbishley are also being tipped as contenders.