Roberto Di Matteo was "surprised and disappointed" after being dismissed as West Bromwich Albion head coach yesterday, becoming the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job this season.
The club's board made a "unanimous" decision to relieve the Italian of his duties and place him on gardening leave after Saturday's match at Manchester City, which completed a run of 13 defeats in the club's last 18 matches.
Di Matteo's departure -- with West Brom outside the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference alone -- immediately prompted rumours that Sam Allardyce and Martin O'Neill might return to management.
However, former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton was established as the bookmakers' early favourite, with Brighton manager Gus Poyet -- a former team-mate of Di Matteo's and currently fourth in the LMA's performance table -- and St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes also understood to be in the frame.
Although Allardyce, O'Neill and Martin Jol -- all out of work -- have predictably been mentioned as possible replacements, the club have stressed that any appointee would be required to fit into the club's "existing set-up" and "embrace" working under sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth.
While West Brom search for a new manager, City turn their thoughts to next Saturday's Manchester derby.
Carlos Tevez will return to Old Trafford brimming with confidence after celebrating his 27th birthday with a hat-trick that took his tally for the season to 20. The Baggies were better than the scoreline suggested and tested Joe Hart, the City goalkeeper, on a number of occasions. But they were ultimately undone by a three-goal burst in the space of 19 first-half minutes.
Tevez's first and third goals came from the penalty spot after a foul and handball by Steven Reid and Jerome Thomas respectively, but his second was a collector's item, the City captain exchanging a deft one-two with David Silva before neatly sidestepping Jonas Olsson and shooting into the corner. He now has a remarkable 49 goals in 70 games for City. United had better watch out.
City, the three points secure, had time to screen a montage in memory of Neil Young, the striker who featured in their great title-winning side of 1968 who died of cancer last week. (© Daily Telegraph, London).