West Brom sacked manager Alan Irvine last night, claiming they had no choice but to take the "unpleasant" decision".
Irvine was only appointed in the summer but the Scot paid price for a run of seven defeats in nine Premier League games which has left the team in 16th place, a point above the bottom three.
The last straw was Sunday's 2-0 loss at Stoke, their third defeat in a row.
The club said in an official statement that Irvine had been placed on gardening leave and assistant head coach Rob Kelly, with Keith Downing, would take charge of the team for the New Year's Day game at West Ham.
Albion revealed they expected to be able to name Irvine's successor by the weekend, with former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood and former Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis the favourites to take over at the Hawthorns.
Albion technical director Terry Burton said Irvine's dismissal was "a decision taken with regret but sadly driven by necessity".
He said on the club's official website: "We appointed Alan in the summer convinced that we had taken on one of the foremost coaches in the UK and nothing that has happened since then has altered our view.
"The individual progress of our players such as Craig Dawson and Saido Berahino are testament to that.
"But sadly that simply has not translated into results and they remain the ultimate currency of Alan's position.
"Securing a sixth season in the Premier League is the over-riding target and sometimes unpleasant decisions have to be taken to serve that imperative.
"Alan has impressed everyone with his manner, dedication and diligence, but he knows that results have simply not been good enough.
"We place on record our gratitude for his efforts and hold nothing but good wishes for his future endeavours. This was a decision taken with regret but sadly driven by necessity."
It means the Baggies are now looking for their fourth manager in little more than 12 months.
Irvine left his role on the Everton staff to take over from Pepe Mel at The Hawthorns, the Spaniard himself having only joined the club in January last year as successor to Steve Clarke.
He admitted in the wake of the defeat to the Potters he did not have control over whether he kept his job after just four league wins in 19 games.
Sherwood, who was heavily linked with the Albion job when it was available in the summer, is joined by former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager Pulis among the contenders to succeed Irvine.
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