Craig Hignett: Hartlepool United sack ex-Middlesbrough player as manager
Hartlepool United have sacked manager Craig Hignett after Wednesday's defeat by Stockport County.
The 49-year-old, who returned for a second stint as Pools boss in January, leaves with the club 16th in the National League table.
He was originally in charge between February 2016 and January 2017, also spending time as director of football.
"This has been, undoubtedly, one of the toughest decisions of my professional life," said chairman Raj Singh.
"My relationship with Craig is well known and we were desperate for that to turn into success for the club we both care so much about.
"The harsh reality is that we have not made the points progress we had hoped for on the back of the efforts that have been made."
Hignett's assistant Ged McNamee has also been dismissed, with Antony Sweeney taking over as caretaker manager.
Hartlepool were unbeaten in three matches prior to the loss at Edgeley Park, a result that left them four points off the play-off places and four points above the relegation zone.
On Monday, Hignett was banned for two matches by the Football Association after accepting a misconduct charge from their game against Dover Athletic last month.