PSV Eindhoven have sacked coach Fred Rutten following poor recent form which has threatened their title hopes.
Rutten failed to survive a third successive defeat in just over a week following Sunday's 3-1 defeat at NAC Breda in the Eredivisie. PSV had also suffered a 4-2 Uefa Europa League round of 16 first-leg defeat away to Valencia and an embarrassing 6-2 home thrashing by Steve McClaren's Twente.
Around 200 angry fans had waited for the team bus on Sunday night following the loss to NAC to demand the sacking of Rutten.
The club said in a statement: “The board would like to record their gratitude for Rutten’s and [Erik] Ten Hag’s work and commitment and express their disappointment that the relationship has ended.”
Despite recent results Rutten leaves the club in fourth place in the Eredivisie just four points off leaders AZ and with PSV attempting to overturn the 4-2 first-leg deficit against Valencia on Thursday in the Europa League.
PSV announced that Rutten’s assistant, Phillip Cocu, and ex-PSV defender Ernest Faber have been placed in charge as the new first-team coaches on an interim basis until the end of the season.
Cocu enjoyed a decorated playing career winning four league titles at PSV and the Spanish championship with Barcelona, led by Louis van Gaal, in 1999. He also represented the Netherlands on 101 occasions, scoring 10 goals.
Cocu has been part of the Netherlands national team coaching set-up under manager Bert van Marwijk since 2008. The club said in a statement that Ernest Faber will sign a two-year contract and will leave his club FC Eindhoven with immediate effect.
PSV are involved in a remarkable title race this season with just seven points between leaders AZ and sixth place Feyenoord. Only the winners of the Eredivisie are guaranteed entry into the Uefa Champions League group phase with the league runners-up entering the 3rd qualifying round. PSV made a €17.5m loss last season following failure to qualify for the Champions League which may explain the sacking of Rutten with the club competing against five other clubs for the chance to compete in Europe's elite club competition.
PSV rejuvenated their squad in the summer - with the €5 million signing of Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum from cash-strapped rivals Feyenoord along with the combined €13 million deal to sign Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens from FC Utrecht – following a deal in which Eindhoven council bought land under the Philips stadium and training complex for a reported €48 million.
Rutten becomes the fifth manager to leave the Eredivisie this season following the departures of Co Adriaanse at Twente (who was replaced by Steve McClaren), Andries Ulderink at De Graafschap, Erwin Koeman at Utrecht and Glen de Boeck who resigned from his post at VVV-Venlo.