Sam Allardyce has been left shocked at the timing of Jose Mourinho's dismissal at Chelsea - just 48 hours before Sunderland head to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho was today sacked by the reigning Premier League champions after a start to the season which has seen Chelsea lose nine of their opening 16 games and lie just three points ahead of second bottom Sunderland.
Black Cats boss Allardyce was conducting his pre-match press conference when the news came through over Mourinho's departure and he was taken aback by the timing of the decision.
Allardyce said: "I'm shocked, I have to say.
"The timing is quite amazing, irrespective of whether he should or shouldn't (be sacked).
"Just a couple of days before the game they're playing against us, is something I thought wouldn't happen.
"And at this period of time at Christmas when you're trying to bring in a manager with all the games, is a strange choice.
"We don't know what's happened, what's gone on, but we have to face Chelsea on Saturday and try to get a result.
"It will be really strange not seeing him on the bench and not having a chat with him beforehand and after the game.
"It's another casualty in the Premier League, which is what we expected this season based on the pressures of the new financial deal."
Mourinho and Allardyce enjoyed a mutually respectful relationship, with the Portugese describing the Sunderland boss as a "good guy" earlier this week.
Allardyce said: "He's a great character and I think you want to pitch your wits against the best. And he's one of the best in the world.
"His CV has proven that over the years since he left Portugal and came to Chelsea the first time around.
"He's gone all over Europe and been successful.
"He's one of the big challenges you had as a manager. How could you work out the tactics for your team to get a result against them which generally shouldn't happen?"