Former Leeds and Manchester United striker Alan Smith has been placed in temporary charge of Notts County while the club look for a new permanent manager.
Smith, 36, a Magpies player since the summer of 2014, has been asked to oversee first-team duties following the sacking of John Sheridan. Mark Crossley will continue in his role as assistant manager.
Sheridan departed Meadow Lane on Monday, hours after a 4-0 defeat at Cambridge – a ninth successive Sky Bet League Two loss which left Notts just one place and one point above the drop zone. The 52-year-old was appointed in the summer but won only six of his 24 league games.
Smith’s first game in charge will be away at Morecambe on Saturday while the club looks for its 11th full-time manager since winning the League Two title in May 2010.
“The most important thing right now is for everyone – players, staff and fans – to stick together,” Smith told the club’s official website.
“There’s no getting away from it, it’s been a very, very disappointing season so far. But there are lots of points still to play for and we are determined and confident of putting things right.
“The fans are doing their bit. Our following at Cambridge, given our recent form, was phenomenal. As players and staff we have to repay that loyalty.
“We have some huge games coming up, starting at Morecambe on Saturday and, until a new manager arrives, I will be working closely with Mark and the rest of the staff to hopefully lead an upturn in our fortunes.”
Notts County are set to be taken over by local businessman Alan Hardy after current owner Ray Trew agreed to sell the club in December but it is understood the former will not appoint Smith on a permanent basis, instead wanting a manager with proven lower-league experience.
Smith came through the academy at Leeds in the late 1990s and he was part of the side that reached the Champions League semi-finals under David O’Leary in 2001.
He made a controversial move to Manchester United following Leeds’ relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and made a good start at Old Trafford before a broken leg curtailed his career.
The striker-turned-midfielder, who won 19 England caps, then moved to Newcastle before dropping down to League One with MK Dons and then Notts County.