(Reuters) - Premier League club Sunderland sacked head coach Paolo Di Canio on Sunday after a string of poor results culminating in a 3-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion.
"Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening," a statement on the club website (www.safc.com) said. "An announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor."
The Italian leaves Sunderland bottom of the Premier League with one point from five matches. He has won only three of his 13 matches since being appointed last March.
Di Canio, 45, was verbally abused by travelling supporters on Saturday and was later highly critical of his players.
"The players need to release the rubbish from their brains. They have to have more confrontation, more anger with each other," he said.
"They need to look into each other's eyes. They lost their belief after 20 minutes. They turned their faces away. They must try to discover their mentality."
He said he also accepted that it was part of the game to face criticism from the fans.
"I knew that they were furious. I went to them because I wanted to see their faces. It's easy to go over when they're clapping or singing your name. I'm responsible but my head is up. I won't give up," he said.
Di Canio, who began his playing career in Serie A before spending seven seasons in the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic, entered football management in England with Swindon Town.
He was appointed manager of Sunderland last March on a 2-1/2-year contract after Martin O'Neill was sacked on the previous day.
His appointment was controversial and the Italian was forced to counter critics alleging that he held fascist beliefs.
Sunderland said former club midfielder Kevin Ball would take charge of the team ahead of Tuesday's League Cup match against Peterborough.
Reporting by John Mehaffey in London; Editing by Rex Gowar