TWO YEARS ago, Ellis Short took the biggest gamble of his Sunderland tenure in axing the vastly-experienced Martin O’Neill and ushering in the Paolo Di Canio show.
On a short-term basis, it paid off, albeit the long-term repercussions reverberated for many months afterwards.
Seeing Poyet depart at this juncture is a sad end to an appointment which had brought such promise from his first few months in the job
Again Sunderland have found themselves just a point above the relegation zone heading into the season’s finale. Again Short has pulled the trigger and jumped back on to the managerial merry-go-round.
There will be few supporters particularly surprised by Short’s decision after Sunderland’s horrendous performance against Aston Villa and a gradual spiral of decline since the turn of the year.
Given the ructions between Gus Poyet and the club’s hierarchy, it was almost inevitable that despite a near-miraculous first season at the club, the Uruguayan would be dismissed this summer. That decision has simply been put on fast-forward.
But now Short, sporting director Lee Congerton and Margaret Byrne have to pray that their choice of short-term successor to Poyet can secure Premier League survival from his nine games in charge.
That’s a big ask, even if Sunderland appoint someone as vastly-experienced as first-choice Dick Advocaat.
Sunderland got lucky once with a short, sharp blast, there’s no guarantee they will do so again.
Seeing Poyet depart at this juncture is a sad end to an appointment which had brought such promise from his first few months in the job.
The intelligent, enthusiastic and diligent Poyet genuinely “got it” on Wearside and the Great Escape, a first cup final in 22 years, plus double derby delight will ensure that last season is remembered as one of the fondest in living memory.
However all that promise unravelled. Poyet’s fractious relationship with Congerton was one of the worst-kept secrets in football and it never really improved.
They clashed over transfers heavily last summer - evidenced by Poyet’s provocative comments in the press - while the issue of who should control what at the club was another source of friction.
Poyet’s repeated remarks about “only being a head coach” were not done idly. They were not without foundation either, given some of the restrictions placed on the former Brighton boss.
He didn’t help himself though.
Post-match press conferences badly damaged Poyet’s relationship with supporters, when his thoughts too often emerged as a stream of consciousness.
Poyet insisted some of his remarks had been misinterpreted, but plenty of his comments were clearly derogatory towards supporters, the board and the press.
But ultimately, Poyet was sacked because of results. That’s always the way.
Four wins all season is an appalling return and since the January signing of Jermain Defoe, Poyet was scrambling around aimlessly to buy a victory.
The starting line-up and formation had a roulette wheel element to them and Sunderland’s players didn’t seem to have any clue of their remit.
The performances - and results - against QPR, Bradford and Villa were frankly abysmal.
Sunderland can ill-afford to lose their place in the Premier League money pit and Short felt he had to act.
Short has to hope that it is not third time unlucky in the scrap to remain in the top flight. Sunderland have been playing with fire for too long. Will they finally get burned?