(Reuters) - Swansea City have sacked their Danish manager Michael Laudrup with the Welsh club having dropped into a Premier League relegation battle after a dramatic slump in form that has left them two points above the drop zone.
Laudrup, who said that winning the League Cup last season ranked among his proudest moments because Swansea are such a small club compared to the European giants like Real Madrid and Juventus he once played for, now finds himself out of a job.
"It is a decision we have taken reluctantly," said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins. "But it's a decision made in the best interests of Swansea City Football Club and our supporters.
"It is the first time in nearly 10 years that the club has parted with a manager in this way, but we had to remove the constant uncertainty surrounding the club and Michael's long-term future with us," he said on the club website (www.swanseacity.net).
Swansea's 2-0 defeat at West Ham United on Saturday was their sixth in eight league games, a run which has left the 12th placed team battling to avoid the drop as they prepare to host fellow strugglers and local rivals Cardiff City on Saturday.
Swansea said their club captain Garry Monk, who came on as a substitute in their League Cup triumph against Bradford City at Wembley, will take over as head coach alongside first team coach Alan Curtis for the foreseeable future.
The 49-year-old Laudrup's departure will come as a surprise to many pundits with the promising coach having continued the precise passing game championed by Roberto Martinez and then Brendan Rodgers, who the Dane replaced as manager in June 2012.
Widely acknowledged as Denmark's greatest player of all time, Laudrup drew on his experience managing a string of clubs from Brondby to Spartak Moscow and led Swansea to a ninth place finish last season and their first major trophy.
However, their small squad has been hampered by the demands of the Europa League with injuries to key players, including Michu, Jonathan de Guzman, Jose Canas, Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and goalkeeper Michel Vorm, having taken their toll.
Since beating Newcastle United in early December, Swansea had a tough run of games with fixtures against Everton, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, who are all battling in the top half of the table.
Jenkins had anguished over the club's future direction under former Denmark international Laudrup, who had a glittering career as a player and won the European Cup with Barcelona in 1992, but in the end he decided they should part ways.
"I had a meeting with Michael today (Tuesday) in a final attempt to support him and establish a way to improve the work of the backroom team to secure the results we need over the final 14 Premier League games," said Jenkins.
"However, after thinking long and hard about the best way forward, I felt it was unlikely we would achieve a stable environment at the club to allow us to get back to basics and produce the performance levels that have served Swansea City so well over the last few years.
"Now we need to put that uncertainty behind us and move forward as a united football club on all fronts, while placing on record our gratitude to Michael for the work he has done over the last 18 months and wish him well for the future."