Steve Bruce is the first Premier League managerial casualty of the season after being sacked by Sunderland.

24422 - Steve Bruce sacked by Sunderland

Assistant manager Eric Black will take charge of the first team while the club searches for Bruce's replacement.

The Black Cats spent heavily in the summer to completely overhaul their squad, with the likes of Craig Gardner, Connor Wickham, Wes Brown and John O'Shea arriving at the Stadium of Light. They also signed Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal.

But Bruce struggled to get the new players to gel, with his side only recording two wins from their opening 13 games.

And with Sunderland currently foundering in 16th place, just two points above the relegation zone, chairman Ellis Short decided it was time to act, bringing to an end Bruce's two-year tenure in the north east.

"This has been a difficult time for everyone at Sunderland and is not a situation that any of us envisaged or expected to be in," Short told the club's official website.

"It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly. Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.

"Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland.

"I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two and a half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.

"I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our club and is vital as we now look to the future."

Early reports suggest that Martin O'Neill and Mark Hughes are the favourites to replace Bruce, with Steve McClaren and Rafa Benitez also suggested as potential candidates.