Dick Advocaat has stepped down as manager of Premier League Sunderland after less than seven months in the job, the club said in a statement on Sunday.
The 68-year-old took over from Uruguayan Gus Poyet in March and although he saved them from relegation last season, Sunderland have failed to win in eight games this season and are one from bottom in the table.
Sunderland said the Dutchman had left the Stadium of Light with immediate effect and assistant head coach Zeljko Petrovic had also departed.
“I feel it is the right time to do this — not for me, but for the club,” Advocaat told the Sunderland website (www.safc.com)
“I have made the decision to go after only eight games as I felt it was important to give everyone time to turn things around — like we did last year
“I have some wonderful memories to take with me and I hope I will return to see everybody again in the future.”
Sunderland’s American owner Ellis Short said he was saddened and the club needed to “regroup quickly and focus on the rest of the season”.
“He was hugely respectful of the club in taking this decision and he acted 100 percent in our best interests,” said Short. “It is also testament to his character that he has forgone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.”
Advocaat had intended to retire at the end of last season but changed his mind and stayed on.
For the third season running, however, Sunderland failed to win any of their opening six league matches and Saturday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United extended that run to eight matches. They have not won since a victory at Everton last May.
The manager had hinted strongly at his intentions on Saturday when he refused to confirm he was staying at the club after the West Ham game.
Sunderland had led 2-0 before having their second goalscorer Jeremain Lens sent off in the second half and allowing the Hammers to walk away with a point.
The decision to step down almost certainly spells retirement for Advocaat, who moved into coaching after a low-key playing career as a midfielder spent mainly in the Netherlands.
Appointed assistant to Dutch national coach Rinus Michels in 1984, he became head coach and took the Netherlands to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1994 before returning to club coaching with PSV Eindhoven in 1995.
He won his first trophy, the Dutch Cup, a year later, before adding the Dutch Championship in 1997.
Advocaat led Rangers to a Scottish treble in 1999 before leaving in 2002 to follow a nomadic career as both a national and club manager which included the distinction of becoming the first foreign coach to win the Russian Premier League title with Zenit St Petersburg in 2007.
He guided Zenit to victory in the 2008 UEFA Cup final against his old club Rangers to become the first foreigner to be made an Honorary Citizen of St Petersburg since 1866.