Sunderland chairman Ellis Short has launched the search for a seventh head coach in as many years following Dick Advocaat's departure.
The Black Cats confirmed what had become an open secret on Sunday afternoon, announcing that the 68-year-old, who was persuaded to sign a year-long contract during the summer after sparing the club from relegation at the end of last season, had left with immediate effect along with assistant Zeljko Petrovic.
Press Association Sport understands that Short, who revealed that Advocaat had gone without any financial settlement, is keen to speak to former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce among others as he seeks a replacement.
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The American said: "I am truly saddened by Dick's decision, but I respect him for his honesty and for doing what he feels is right for the club.
"He is a man of integrity and a true football person. He was hugely respectful of the club in taking this decision and he acted 100 per cent in our best interests.
"It is also testament to his character that he has forgone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.
"While this isn't a situation any of us envisaged being in, what is important now is that we regroup quickly and focus on the rest of the season."
Advocaat's departure came less than 24 hours after his side's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with West Ham, which lifted them off the foot of the table, if only on goal difference.
They are yet to win a league game this season and have collected only three of the 24 points they have contested so far.
Advocaat said: "This is a very special football club with so many great people, but I feel it is the right time to do this - not for me, but for the club.
"I have made the decision to go after only eight games as I felt it was important to give everyone time turn things around - like we did last year."
It is understood Allardyce, former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson and Burnley's Sean Dyche are among those interesting Sunderland, who are also considering up and coming managers such as Karl Robinson of MK Dons and Burton's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.