Glenn Hoddle was last night sacked as manager of Tottenham Hotspur after the club's worst-ever start to a Premiership season left them in the bottom three.
The club's chairman, Daniel Levy, immediately installed the director of football, David Pleat, as caretaker manager. The former Spurs manager is said to want the job permanently, but it is thought the No 1 target will be Celtic's Martin O'Neill.
O'Neill has a one-year rolling contract at Parkhead, where he has been for three seasons, and it is understood that he is interested in taking over at Tottenham. Another possible candidate, Graeme Souness, appeared to distance himself from a move over the weekend by stressing how happy he was at Blackburn Rovers. Souness, like Hoddle a former Spurs player, would be undoubtedly harder to persuade to leave than O'Neill.
The departure of Hoddle, 45, is not unexpected and although he will argue he has only been given six games at the start of this season, discontent with him has stretched back much further. From 1 January, when Spurs lost 1-0 at Southampton, until Saturday, when they were beaten by the same club, this time 3-1 at home, Hoddle saw his team win six out of 24 matches, which is relegation form.
He hoped for a brighter start to this campaign after spending more than £11m on three strikers in the summer - including £6.25m for the 20-year-old Helder Postiga, who has remained on the bench during the last two defeats.
Levy, who interrupted his honeymoon to sack Hoddle, said last night: "It is with regret that I announce that manager Glenn Hoddle is to leave the club with immediate effect. Glenn and I spoke this evening. Following two seasons of disappointing results, there was significant investment in the team during the summer in order to give us the best possible chance of success this season.
"Unfortunately, the start to this season has been our worst since the Premiership was formed. Coupled with the extremely poor second half to last season, the current lack of progress and any visible sign of improvement is unacceptable. It is critical that I, and the board, have absolute confidence in the manager to deliver success to the club. Regrettably we do not. It is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, we are determined to see this club succeed and we must now move forward.
"Glenn occupies a special place at this club. Today's decision in no way detracts from the fact that he was one of our greatest players. He will always be welcome at White Hart Lane. I should like to personally thank him for his determination and commitment and wish him well. We shall be thorough in our search for a new manager."
Hoddle's man-management has come under severe scrutiny following his falling out publically with several players. Recently he has also lost the support of sections of the Spurs fans who idolised him as a player. Also leaving with Hoddle will be his long-time assistant, John Gorman. Pleat, who has been a critic of Hoddle's tactics and style, will take charge until a full-time replacement is appointed. He will be assisted by the first-team coach, Chris Hughton.