LONDON - Tim Sherwood was sacked as Aston Villa manager on Sunday less than 24 hours after a defeat against Swansea that left his side languishing in the Premier League relegation zone.
Sherwood had been under increasing pressure during Villa's dismal run of six successive league defeats and Saturday's 2-1 home loss proved the final straw for the club's owner Randy Lerner.
American tycoon Lerner is reported to have held extensive talks with Villa's chief executive Tom Fox following the Swansea defeat and they felt the only solution to the team's troubles was to axe Sherwood after just eight months in charge.
"Aston Villa Football Club has parted company with manager Tim Sherwood today," a statement on Villa's website read.
"The Board has monitored the performances closely all season and believes the results on the pitch were simply not good enough and that a change is imperative.
"However, the Club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Tim for all his efforts during a difficult period last season and for the many positive contributions he has made to the entire football setup during his time with the Club. We wish him well in the future." Kevin MacDonald, who had been coaching Villa's Under-21 squad, takes over as interim boss while Lerner searches for a permanent replacement for former Tottenham manager Sherwood.
Villa's assistant manager Ray Wilkins, first-team coach Mark Robson and performance analyst Seamus Brady have also left with immediate effect.
"A search for a new manager has commenced and the squad will be managed in the interim by Kevin MacDonald," the statement added.
Sherwood initially made a positive impact at Villa after replacing Paul Lambert on a three-and-half year contract in February.
He led he team away from the relegation zone and masterminded their run to the FA Cup final.
However, that Wembley appearance ended in a 4-0 thrashing by Arsenal and the close-season brought further bad news for Sherwood as star striker Christian Benteke was sold to Liverpool, while Fabian Delph joined Manchester City.
Deprived of his two key players, Sherwood was said to be concerned by Villa's policy, guided by sporting director Hendrik Almstadt, of recruiting a raw group of youngsters mostly from overseas.
His worries about their lack of Premier League experience proved well founded.
After a narrow opening day win at Bournemouth, Sherwood's side began a miserable nine-game winless run in the league that left them second bottom of the table and four points from safety when the axe fell.
Even a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Birmingham in the League Cup last month did little to ease the pressure on Sherwood.
Despite insisting after the Swansea defeat that he would fight to save his job, Sherwood cut a forlorn figure who looked resigned to his fate when he faced the media.
Sherwood is the second Premier League boss sacked this season after Brendan Rodgers left Liverpool and he exits Villa Park having lost 16 of his 28 games in charge.
The 46-year-old's abrupt departure gave him the unwanted record of overseeing the shortest spell of any permanent Villa manager and he also lasted only six months as Tottenham boss.
Former Manchester United and Everton manager David Moyes, currently in charge of Spanish club Real Sociedad, has been installed as the early favourite to succeed Sherwood, while Rodgers is certain to be linked with the role after his Anfield exit.