Sunderland sack Wilkinson

Sunderland AFC have sacked manager Howard Wilkinson and his assistant Steve Cotterill after just five months.

Sunderland AFC have dismissed manager Howard Wilkinson and his assistant, Steve Cotterill, just five months after they took charge of the ailing Premiership club.

Two wins in 20
Wilkinson, the former technical director of the Football Association and twice caretaker manager of England, returned to club football with Sunderland after a six-year gap as the replacement for Peter Reid, but he has overseen just two wins in 20 matches.

Key match
Without a league win since mid-December, Sunderland sit bottom of the table, seven points from safety with just nine games of the season to play. Sunderland chairman Bob Murray said in a statement on the club's website that the club would be appointing a successor before Saturday's home match against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers FC.

'Much-needed boost'
"The board has decided that it is in the best interests of the club and its supporters to make a change immediately, and assistant manager Steve Cotterill has also gone," said Murray. "After just two wins in 20 league games the club's situation has become very difficult and it is therefore critical that a new manager be appointed to give confidence and revitalise the team as well as provide a much-needed boost for the fans.

'Disappointing period'
"The club and its supporters have faced disappointment over a drawn-out period. This has been very difficult for everyone concerned but we are absolutely determined to arrest the decline and revive the club. We will be appointing a successor before our crucial game against Bolton at the weekend."