Everton have fired manager Frank Lampard in a bid to extend their 68-season unbroken run in England's top flight.
The former England midfielder was in charge at Goodison Park for eight days short of a year, during which time he won nine and lost 21 of his 38 Premier League matches.
"Everyone at Everton would like to thank Frank and his coaching staff for their service during what has been a challenging 12 months," a club statement read.
"Frank and his team's commitment and dedication have been exemplary throughout their time at the club, but recent results and the current league position meant this difficult decision had to be taken. We wish Frank and all his backroom team well for their future in the game.
"Paul Tait and Leighton Baines will take training until a new manager is appointed."
But axing the 44-year-old is unlikely to fix the problems at Everton, which go well beyond the manager's dug-out.
At recent games fans have called for the exit of the board of directors rather than Lampard, who was the seventh 'permanent' manager in as many years.
Years of poor leadership have left the Toffees stuck in a rut.
With the club struggling to meet Financial Fair Play regulations Lampard could not strengthen a squad he guided away from relegation last season.
Unable to replace last season's top-scorer, Brazilian forward Richarlison, who joined Tottenham in the summer, Everton have found scoring difficult.
The only match they have won in the last three months is the 5-1 friendly victory over Western Sydney Wanderers in Parramatta while on a World Cup break.
That cut little ice on Merseyside and nine defeats in their last 12 league matches, including losses to all the clubs around them in the table.
His last game in charge was Saturday's 2-0 league defeat at West Ham United, which kept Everton second-bottom on 15 points after 20 games, two points adrift of safety.
That was the first match watched this season by owner Farhad Moshiri who has sacked six managers - he lost Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid - and two directors of football since he took over in February 2016.
With eight days left of the transfer window a swift appointment is needed, but no one appears lined up.
The candidates to replace Lampard are many and varied, from inexperienced ex-players Wayne Rooney and Duncan Ferguson to veterans Marcelo Bielsa and Sean Dyche, the range of candidates reflecting the lack of direction in the boardroom.
The one place Everton do know they are going is to a new 53,000-seat home next year, sited in the city's historic docklands and costing around A$1bn.
The prospect of moving in as a second-tier club, with losses totalling $A660m in the last three available sets of accounts, is adding to the anxiety around what is one of England's great clubs.
Everton may not have won an honour since the FA Cup in 1995 but only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more than their nine titles, and no one has spent as long in the top flight.
Since being founding members of the competition in 1888, Everton have spent just four seasons outside it.
The 'School of Science' next hosts leaders Arsenal on February 4, followed by the Merseyside derby at Liverpool on February 13.