Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson and assistant Steve Cotterill have left the club, it was announced on Monday night.
The club hopes to have a new manager in place very soon
After 20 games in charge, the pair have departed after the board decided it was in the best interests of the club and its supporters to make a change immediately.
They decided to act after a record of just two wins in 20 League games left the club rooted to the bottom Barclaycard Premiership and facing relegation to Division One.
Martyn McFadden, of fanzine A Love Supreme, told BBC News Online: "I am surprised, and think they must have someone else lined up.
"It is a shame for Wilkinson in a way, who has had to work with someone else's team, but then again, things have not really improved.
"The chairman obviously has someone in mind to step in.
'Revive the club'
Club chairman Bob Murray said: "The Club and its supporters have faced disappointment over a drawn out period.
"This has been very difficult for everyone concerned but we are absolutely determined to arrest the decline and revive the club.
"We will be appointing a successor before our crucial game against Bolton at the weekend.
"The fans have been incredibly tolerant and supportive in the circumstances and I would like to thank them for that.
"We understand how people are feeling and regret this.
We all want to see the team get back to winning ways and putting in the type of performances that will give the fans something to cheer about."
Vice-chairman John Fickling said it was important that the new manager could improve the league position in the short term "and help re-establish the club".
Wilkinson took over in October 2002 from Peter Reid, who was sacked after more than seven years as manager at the club.