Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson has been sacked by the club after their poor start to the Premiership season.
Robson, who was due to leave at the end of the season after the club opted not to renew his contract, has overseen two defeats and two draws this season.
But a club statement revealed the 71-year-old, who has been at St James' Park since taking over from Ruud Gullit in 1999, would be replaced early.
Magpies captain Alan Shearer is the favourite to be installed.
Shearer has made no secret of his desire to move into management when he finishes playing, and he is due to hang up his boots at the end this campaign.
Robson, who had hoped to stay on and lead his home town club to silverware this season, was devastated by his dismissal.
"I am massively disappointed not to be able to finish the job I came here to do," said Robson.
"I have immensely enjoyed my time here as manager, and I wish the club all the best of success in the future.
"At the present moment, I have absolutely nothing to say except to thank the Geordie fans for their tremendous enthusiasm, loyalty and support."
Although the club enjoyed a remarkable upturn in fortunes under Robson, Newcastle failed to win any trophies during his time in charge.
The Magpies were threatened with relegation when Robson replaced Gullit, but under him they reached the FA and Uefa Cup semi-finals, third place in the Premiership and the second phase of the Champions League.
Robson was originally on a 12-month rolling contract before that became a one-year fixed-term deal in March.
The club statement continued: "The directors wish to thank Sir Bobby for the way in which he has worked tirelessly over the past five years to try to bring success to the club.
"The club agreed early in 2003 to extend Sir Bobby's contract by one further season.
"However after careful consideration the club decided it was in the best interest of all concerned to revisit that decision.
"The club will no doubt continue to benefit from the knowledge and experience he has given during his
Robson's position was not helped by persistent rumours of player unrest at the club with midfielder Kieron Dyer forced into making a public apology after refusing to play out of position.
The bid to bring Wayne Rooney to St James' Park is reported to have prompted further discontent in the squad, with Craig Bellamy threatening to review his position if the Everton striker was signed.
And in his last game in charge - a 4-2 defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday - Robson dropped Newcastle talisman Alan Shearer in favour of Patrick Kluivert.
It was the first time a fully-fit Shearer had been left on the bench for a Premiership fixture since Gullit's ill-fated reign on Tyneside.
Early speculation has also linked former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, Celtic's Martin O'Neill and Birmingham's Steve Bruce with the vacancy.