Championship play-off hopefuls Sunderland have sacked head coach Michael Beale less than two weeks before they face Norwich City in a crunch match at Carrow Road.

The Canaries are currently one of several sides battling for the top six, with the Black Cats in poor form under Beale and fans keen to be rid of him for weeks.

They've slipped down to 10th in the table and currently trail seventh-placed Norwich by four points.

Beale's taken charge of just 12 games in the north east, winning four, and took aim at calls for his sacking last month in claims that his accent had contributed to his downfall.

"I didn’t sack him, did I," he said of predecessor Tony Mowbray, who has temporarily stepped away from his role at Birmingham City for health reasons. "They won two in nine before he left, so are we making out it was perfect?

"I can’t change my accent or where I am from, I am proud of where I am from. I haven’t worked in London for ten years, but obviously I am from South London. Six years in Liverpool, four and a half in Glasgow, a year in Brazil. My accent hasn’t changed!

"I am happy to be criticised if we can’t score goals or repeatedly make mistakes, but that one is a bit off. So if it is about football, fine. But I feel I deserve a bit more respect because of my journey, which deserves that."

City were beaten 3-1 by Mowbray's side when they travelled to the Stadium of Light earlier this season, Hwang Ui-jo's opener cancelled out by Trai Hume before Dan Neil and Jack Clarke sealed the win for Sunderland.

They travel to NR1 on Saturday, March 2, after David Wagner's side face Blackburn Rovers this weekend.