LONDON • The former Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett is the early bookmakers' favourite to take over at Hull City after the Premier League's bottom club parted company with Mike Phelan.
The 54-year-old Phelan, who was appointed on a permanent basis in October, was shown the door following Monday's 3-1 defeat by West Bromwich Albion, which left the club with 13 points from 20 games.
"The club can announce it has parted company with head coach Mike Phelan," Hull confirmed via their Twitter page.
Hull have been in a permanent state of turmoil since winning promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs last May.
Within weeks, manager Steve Bruce had resigned and the club seemed set for a takeover after their seriously-ill owner Assem Allam, who had long been at loggerheads with supporters after seeking to change the club's name, announced his intention to sell.
Yet, the new investment did not materialise and Phelan, who was Bruce's assistant, stepped up to be caretaker manager, beginning the season with wins over Leicester City and Swansea despite having just 13 senior players at his disposal.
Buoyed by that success, Hull handed him a permanent contract in October, but a series of injuries to key players, including strikers Will Keane and Abel Hernandez, took their toll and the club soon dropped down the table.
Hull's statement read: "We would like to thank Mike for his efforts both as assistant manager and head coach over the last two years. The search for a replacement has begun and an announcement will be made in due course."
Rowett is keen to return to football after his surprising sacking at St Andrew's where his successor Gianfranco Zola has struggled to win over supporters and found results difficult to come by.
Seen as one of the brightest and most eloquent English managers in the game, the 42-year-old was in the running for the Swansea job before losing out to Paul Clement and has also been linked with a move to Nottingham Forest.
Rowett remains highly regarded for his work at Burton and transforming Birmingham from relegation strugglers to promotion contenders at the Championship.
However, he may have to be convinced Hull are right for him with uncertainty around ownership continuing to blight the club.
The new manager will have the benefit of an open transfer window in which to do business, although attracting players to a relegation dog-fight may demand strong powers of persuasion.
Hull's last victory came on Nov 6 against Southampton.
The former Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has also been linked with the vacancy, along with Chris Coleman and Roy Hodgson.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS