Dean Smith was sacked by Aston Villa as they had doubts over whether he was capable of leading the club into Europe, according to Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield.
Why was Smith sacked by Villa?
Chief executive Christian Purslow claimed now was the right time to part ways with Smith to give his successor enough time to make an impact at Villa Park.
Ahead of the season getting underway in August, Purslow had publicly confirmed that qualifying for European football was part of the strategic plan put in place by co-owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris.
However, Villa have gone into the international break sitting just two points above the dreaded Premier League drop zone thanks to their string of defeats in recent weeks, while only Newcastle United and Norwich City have conceded more goals.
The highlight of his time in charge came when he led Villa back into the Premier League via the Championship play-offs less than a year after his unveiling.
What has Luke Hatfield said about Smith?
Hatfield believes a key reason for Smith's sacking was because the club's owners doubted whether he was capable of guiding Villa into continental football.
The journalist admits members of the fanbase were beginning to worry over whether Smith boasted the capabilities to meet the club's targets.
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Hatfield feels Villa will now look to appoint a successor who can reach the owners' goal of bagging a European spot further down the line.
He told GIVEMESPORT: "A lot of fans were maybe starting to turn on Dean and agree with the view that, after this year, maybe he's not the man to lead the club into Europe.
"That's a big thing for the owners and Christian Purslow. They're going to want someone who can do that."
Who is in line to replace Smith at the helm?
There had already been question marks over Smith's future ahead of the defeat to Southampton last Friday, with reports suggesting informal contact had already been made with Paulo Fonseca over potentially moving into the hotseat.
However, Fonseca is not the only man to have been linked with the top job as Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl, who is currently in charge of Southampton, are being considered as candidates.
John Terry, Frank Lampard, Nuno Espirito Santo and Lucien Favre are thought to be among those in the running to take over the reins at Villa Park, along with Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand and Belgium's Roberto Martinez.News Now - Sport News