Paolo di Canio has emerged as the favourite to succeed the sacked Brian McDermott at Reading, with just nine games left for the club to stave off relegation.
McDermott's departure was announced on Monday evening, 33 days after he was named Manager of the Month for January, as owner Anton Zingarevich "felt that a change was necessary", a club statement read.
Di Canio was in attendance for McDermott's last game in charge of the Royals at the weekend, when Aston Villa came from a goal down to earn a 2-1 win at the Madejski Stadium.
Di Canio's only managerial experience has come at Swindon
The Italian spent 21 colourful months as coach of Swindon Town, whom he led to promotion as League Two champions last season prior to resigning three weeks ago.
Former Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo and ex-Southampton manager Nigel Adkins - the other two Premier League coaches to have been dismissed this campaign - have also been linked with the Royals post. Adkins' situation is complicated however since he has not reached a settlement with Southampton since he left St Mary's in January.
McDermott became Reading's full-time manager in January 2010 after a successful caretaker stint which involved a 2-1 FA Cup third-round win at Liverpool for the then Championship side.
Struggling in English football's second tier, McDermott galvanised the team and the following year they reached the Play-Off final - only to be defeated 4-2 by Swansea City - before gaining promotion as champions in 2012.
A number of journalists tweeted they had received a text message from McDermott on Monday which simply read, "Devastated."
McDermott revitalised Reading during his three years in charge
Pundit and Reading striker said he was "saddened" by McDermott's exit.
"I'm saddened really because he's been absolutely fantastic for us – for me personally and for the club," Roberts told Sky Sports News.
"I think he's been a victim of his own success in some ways and I'm sure he's going to be disappointed. But as you know football is a results business and I'm sure he'll say that as much as anybody else. As a player I'm disappointed and it's a sad day for us.
"I think the performances we've given on the pitch up until now, to allow Reading to be in the Premier League and to be in the position we are now have been over and above what people would have expected.
"In the Premier League we would have liked to have done better and liked to have been out of the relegation zone but I think it's an important time to look back and see all the success Brian McDermott has achieved at the club and what this group of players has achieved.
"He's a football man, he's a good man and I think it's right we take stock of what he's achieved and place on record our thanks for what he and his team have achieved with us."