Everton have confirmed the departure of Frank Lampard as manager.
The 44-year-old has been sacked after less than a year in charge at Goodison Park, with the club embroiled in a relegation battle for a second successive season.
News of Lampard’s fate was widely reported from mid-afternoon on Monday but was not officially announced by the club until after 8pm.
A statement read: “Everton Football Club can confirm that Frank Lampard has left his post as senior men’s first-team manager today.
“Everyone at Everton would like to thank Frank and his coaching staff for their service during what has been a challenging 12 months.”
Lampard leaves Goodison Park with the club 19th in the Premier League after a run of nine defeats in 12 games. He won just nine and lost 21 of his 38 Premier League matches and his sacking comes eight days before the first anniversary of his appointment.
The statement added: “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.
“The club has started the process to secure a new manager and will provide updates on the appointment in due course.”
Paul Tait and Leighton Baines will oversee training until a new manager is appointed.
Everton brought in former Chelsea and Derby boss Lampard as successor to Rafael Benitez, who had lasted just 200 days in the post. His departure means the Toffees are now looking for their eighth permanent manager since owner Farhad Moshiri took over the club in February 2016.
Moshiri offered public backing to Lampard as recently as January 13, but hugely damaging defeats to fellow strugglers Southampton and West Ham have forced a change.
Everton have scored just 15 goals in 20 Premier League games this term and have only managed to find the net more than once in a game twice.
There has been widespread fan unrest and numerous demonstrations against the club board in recent weeks. Board members did not attend the recent game against Southampton due to security concerns.
The club’s delay in confirming Lampard’s removal, when it had already been widely reported for several hours, is only likely to have added to supporter frustration in light of complaints about poor communication.
Football pundit Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender but boyhood Evertonian, was incredulous about the situation.
Carragher told Sky Sports: “Everton are the worst-run club in the country.
“You start with the owner Farhad Moshiri. He doesn’t know what he’s doing but he’s got a lot of money. Why does every Everton manager fail? When every (manager) fails, you’ve got to look at the top.”
Fellow analyst Gary Neville, a former England team-mate of Lampard’s, felt the club’s delayed media communication summed up their malaise.
He said: “That is symptomatic of a club that is not organised.
“If after a six or seven-year period you have sustained failure and embedded misery for the fans, at that point you have got to start looking above the football and coaching staff. You have to look at the very top.”
The issues upstairs had largely seen Lampard spared the ire of supporters but former Everton striker Kevin Campbell felt the club had no choice but to make the change.
He told Sky Sports News: “The inevitable has happened. It hasn’t gone according to plan and the club have pulled the trigger.
“The club’s a bit toxic at the moment, so they’ve got to do something to address the slide.”
It is unclear in which direction the club will move next. Former Burnley manager Sean Dyche and ex-Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa have emerged as early favourites, even though they represent widely differing football philosophies.
The odds on Duncan Ferguson, who has twice taken over in a caretaker capacity, have also shortened while ex-Toffees favourite Wayne Rooney, currently in charge at DC United, has also been linked.
Other names in the frame could be Ralph Hasenhuttl and Nuno Espirito Santo.
He said: “That sums it up. There’s one at one end of the scale and another at the other – and in a way that doesn’t surprise me whatsoever. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know where Everton turn.”
One deal that is set to be done is a loan move for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma. An agreement is understood to have been reached and an announcement is unlikely to be affected by Lampard’s departure.