Reading have sacked manager Brian McDermott, it was announced this evening.
The announcement comes 48hours after the Royals lost 2-1 to fellow relegation strugglers Aston Villa.
The result left the Berkshire club second from bottom in the Premier League table, four points adrift of safety.
The decision, with just nine games of the season remaining, will come as a surprise.
Despite Reading's troubles on the pitch following their return to the Premier League there has been a well publicised good team-spirit at the club. And with so few games of the season remaining, any incoming manager will struggle to make a swift enough impact.
A Reading statement said: "Owner Anton Zingarevich wishes to place on record his thanks to Brian," adding Zingarevich "felt that a change was necessary".
Saturday's defeat at the Madejski Stadium was their fourth straight loss in the Premier League which included a home defeat to fellow strugglers Wigan.
The 51-year-old had taken over as caretaker at the club in 2009 before being named full-time boss a year later. He led them to promotion to the Premier League last season.
Di Matteo and and Paolo Di Canio have been installed as the favourites to take over with Reading stating: "The search for a successor will start immediately and it is hoped that a new Manager will be in place as soon as possible to lead the fight against potential relegation."
McDermott becomes the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job this term, following in the footsteps of Mark Hughes at QPR, Nigel Adkins at Southampton and Roberto di Matteo at Chelsea.