Newcastle United confirmed their decision to sack Steve McClaren on Friday, with the Magpies looking to avoid relegation in the last nine games of the season.
In a statement released by the club, managing director Lee Charnley announced that the two parties would be parting ways after just nine months, but thanked the former England boss for his contribution.
“I would like to thank Steve personally for his services to Newcastle United. He is a man of integrity and class and he has conducted himself with great dignity during this difficult time.
“Steve worked tirelessly to try and bring success to Newcastle United. He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks.
“We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the Club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future.”
That change has linked former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez with the post, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Spaniard will take charge for the remainder of the season and try to keep the club in the English top flight.
Nevertheless, looking at the current situation, the Magpies are just a point adrift of safety and evidently a small run of good form could be enough to ensure that rivals Sunderland go down to the Championship instead.
In what has been a miserable campaign for Aston Villa, Remi Garde’s side have looked resigned to being relegated for weeks and sit bottom of the table with nine points separating them from safety.
In turn, that leaves two spot open to join them in the Championship next season, with Newcastle, Norwich City and Sunderland fighting to avoid the drop with the likes of Swansea City and Crystal Palace opening up what should be a big enough gap to see them through.
As a result, Newcastle needed to act now to preserve their top flight status as it simply hasn’t been good enough under McClaren. The 54-year-old has overseen just six wins this season, with his side amongst the lowest scorers in the league as well as conceding just two less than Villa who have the worst defensive record.
Perhaps things could have improved in crunch time with the pressure really on the players, but Newcastle were unable to take that risk and have made the right decision. Now, they must make an even more important choice with his successor.