SUNDERLAND have parted company with Michael Beale after just 12 games in charge as head coach.

Formal confirmation is expected imminently, with Beale having lasted just 64 days at the Stadium of Light after succeeding Tony Mowbray in late December.

His final game in charge of the Black Cats was Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Mowbray's Birmingham City side at St Andrew's.

A controversial appointment from the outset given that Sunderland fans did not really want Mowbray to be dismissed, Beale's reign began badly his first game ended in a 3-0 home defeat to Coventry City.

He lost six of his 12 matches in charge, drawing two and winning four, and leaves with Sunderland sitting tenth in the Championship table, four points adrift of the play-off positions.

His brief spell in charge was beset with controversies and problems, many of which were self-inflicted.

While many supporters not really take to him in the first place, the 43-year-old angered fans when he suggested that their antipathy might have been down to his southern accent.

Beale also courted controversy at the weekend when he appeared to snub defender Trai Hume as he opted not to shake the defender's hand when he was substituted in the latter stages of Sunderland's defeat at St Andrew's.

Beale insisted he had not seen Hume walking down the touchline, and subsequently apologised to the Northern Irishman, but it was another misstep in a reign that seemed destined to fail.

On the pitch, Beale's Sunderland side lacked the flair that was displayed under his predecessor, Mowbray, with last week's back-to-back defeats to Huddersfield and Birmingham having severely dented the club's promotion hopes.

However, while owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and sporting director Kristjaan Speakman will hope Beale's departure reignites Sunderland's stuttering season, the chaotic nature of his appointment and dismissal reflects badly on the pair.

They decided Mowbray's time was up even though the former boss remained extremely popular, with a side that was challenging for promotion, and bypassed a number of alternative candidates - most notably highly-rated coach Will Still - in order to appoint Beale, who had been sacked by Rangers as recently as last October.

Speakman spoke effusively about Beale's qualities at his introductory press conference in December, and was still backing the head coach when he addressed the press at the end of the January transfer window.

Three weeks later, however, and he has been forced to dismiss his own appointee, plunging Sunderland into yet more uncertainty at a crucial stage of the season.

While a formal statement confirming what happens next has not yet been issued, it is anticipated that Mike Dodds will resume caretaker control ahead of Saturday's home game with Swansea City.

Dodds took caretaker charge of the Black Cats for three games in the wake of Mowbray's dismissal, overseeing victories over West Brom and Leeds United and a defeat to Bristol City.

Given that there are only 13 games of the Championship season remaining, there is a good chance that Dodds could remain in charge for the remainder of the campaign.