Bundesliga strugglers Freiburg have parted company with their coach Marcus Sorg only days before the team is due to regroup for training after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The club's director of sport, Dirk Dufner, has confirmed at a press conference that Sorg's contract has been terminated with immediate effect. Sorg's assistant, Christian Streich, has been placed in charge.
Freiburg sit at the foot of the table with just 13 points from 17 games so far this season while they were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal in the first round by third division side Unterhaching.
Sorg took over from Robin Dutt last summer after he left to replace Jupp Heynckes at Bayer Leverkusen.
The 46-year-old becomes the fourth managerial change of the current Bundesliga season, following Michael Oenning of Hamburg, Ralf Rangnick of Schalke and Markus Babbel of Hertha Berlin.
"There are days in football which are not so pleasant and today is one of those days," Dufner said. "We decided yesterday to relieve Marcus Sorg of his duties with immediate effect."
Sorg's assistant and former youth team coach Streich has been given a contract until June 2014, becoming the new full-time coach and not purely an interim solution.
"He knows the team and he knows the players," Dufner said. "We are absolutely convinced this is the right solution."
Streich will be tasked with lifting the club off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone over the final four months of the season.
And he admitted it was not so easy to accept the club's offer of the job having worked so closely with his predecessor in recent years.
"It is a difficult moment for me," he said. "It was the most difficult decision of my life given my respect of Marcus."
Nevertheless, he believes he can take Sorg's work forwards and save the club from the drop.
He said: "The team is alive. We have had plenty of tight matches and if only a few small screws turn, then we can achieve our objective of staying up. We can do it."
Sorg was promoted from the role of reserve team coach to take over from Dutt last summer after he replaced Heynckes at Bayer Leverkusen.
However, he had to wait five games before celebrating his first win as a Bundesliga coach, a 3-0 triumph over Wolfsburg at the end of August.
Since then, they have beaten only Borussia Monchengladbach and Nurnberg while they lost 7-0 at Bayern Munich and ended the year with a 4-0 defeat at Cologne and a 4-1 reverse at home to Borussia Dortmund.
The first signs of cracks emerged at the start of the winter break when Sorg announced that six players would not be part of his playing squad in 2012.
Yacine Abdessadki, Heiko Butscher, Felix Bastians, Kisho Yano, Maximilian Nicu and Manuel Salz cannot expect any mercy from Streich, though.
"We are not going back since Streich was also part of this decision," said Dufner, who also confirmed that there had been signs of unrest among the squad towards Sorg, but that these "conflicts" had been "nipped in the bud".