Sunderland are seeking their eighth manager in six turbulent years after David Moyes concluded a calamitous 10 months on Wearside by resigning yesterday.
The former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager departed after a meeting with Ellis Short, Sunderland's owner, and Martin Bain, the chief executive, in London.
He leaves the relegated club without compensation after presiding over only six Premier League wins all season, falling out with some key players and failing to persuade Short to agree to his proposal of signing virtually an entirely new team this summer.
Sunderland will spend the next few days "taking stock" before attempting to recruit a replacement but their eventual shortlist could well include Slavisa Jokanovic. The Fulham manager's Craven Cottage contract contains a break clause and he and Bain previously worked well together at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Whoever takes over must cope without Jermain Defoe after Sunderland's leading scorer opened talks with Bournemouth. Defoe's contract contains a clause enabling him to leave on a free transfer.
Moyes could soon be a candidate to replace the currently vulnerable Gordon Strachan as Scotland coach but his departure represents a loss of face for Short, who recruited the 54-year-old at the fifth attempt last July. At the time Sam Allardyce's successor was unaware that the billionaire American financier was hoping to sell Sunderland and failed to realise the club were well over £100m in debt.
Nonetheless Moyes was allowed to spend £30m last summer but his signings failed to impress and, with the team struggling, he privately considered walking out as early as last autumn.
By then Sunderland fans were already becoming disillusioned with his perceived negativity but Short – who would have had to fork out £3m in recompense had he sacked him only one year into a four-year contract – was reluctant to pay off yet another manager. Moreover, like Bain, the owner clung to the hope that Moyes would prove the long-term solution to Sunderland’s woes.
At the start of this month Moyes hinted that he was minded to quit but a meeting with Short and Bain a fortnight ago ended with the pair offering him their unequivocal support and Short pondering his rebuilding plans.
Since then calls for Moyes’s head from fans have intensified and the club’s internal atmosphere has become increasingly toxic.
It is understood that Moyes, who questioned the attitude and application of several senior players and was horrified when 12 reported injured before Sunday's 5-1 defeat at Chelsea, learned Short would not be offering him next season's £47m parachute payment to invest.
Although he would have been allowed to reinvest money from the sales of players, including Jordan Pickford and Lamine Koné, he feared it would be insufficient to facilitate an immediate promotion challenge.
A statement from Short read: “I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment last summer, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned.
“Having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character. In the days ahead we will take some time for reflection and then focus on recruitment.”
After spending more than a decade at Everton Moyes has now left four posts in four years. If the moment in March when, furious to have been quizzed about his job security, he told the BBC reporter Vicki Sparks that she might "get a slap," if she was not more deferential in future tarnished his reputation, Sunderland's season-long surrender has arguably holed it almost beyond repair.