Zlatko Kranjcar has been sacked as Montenegro coach and replaced by his assistant Branko Brnovic ahead of crunch Euro 2012 qualifiers against England and Switzerland in October.
The move, announced by the Football Association of Montenegro, comes in the wake of Friday's 2-1 defeat to Wales, which left Montenegro needing victory in their final two matches to secure qualification.
Montenegro are currently in second place in Group G and six points behind England, who only need a point to reach next summer's finals, while they have a three-point lead over third-placed Switzerland
Kranjcar's Montenegro were quick out of the blocks in Euro 2012 qualifying, but they drew 1-1 at home to Bulgaria in June before back-to-back defeats against Albania and Wales.
"After the latest round of qualifiers, the position of our team is not as comfortable as it was before, especially before the match against Bulgaria and then Wales,'' FCSG secretary general Momir Durdevac said.
"It had appeared we would either qualify directly or at least finish second safely, and so become a play-off participant, but after the last two results we are now in a situation where we enter into the final round of qualifiers with a great deal of uncertainty.
"Analysing the reasons for this, the board concluded that the coach Zlatko Kranjcar had not performed to his best, especially in the last two matches, and unanimously decided to dismiss the coach.
"This decision is not easy, but we considered a number of reasons and this is the only possible and correct solution at this point.''
Kranjcar, 54, a former Yugoslavia and Croatia international, took charge of the team in February 2010 after a nomadic career in club football and oversaw the dramatic start to Montenegro's campaign. But he appears a victim of his own success as Montenegro got used to the idea of competing for a place in a major tournament.
Brnovic, a Montenegrin who played for Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro, received the backing of FCSG president Dejan Savicevic as he looks to salvage the qualification bid, with Savicevic saying he would remain in place for the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
"He knows the players and all of the problems they have faced in these two cycles, and I believe he is right for this position,'' Savicevic said. "Brnovic will have the full support of the FSCG and will remain secure until the end of the qualifying campaign for the World Cup in Brazil.''