There’s an element of hair-splitting over the factors behind Sam Allardyce’s departure from Sunderland’s Alpine training base.
Allardyce’s flight back to Blighty was always going to spark a frenzy of speculation, considering the stream of public backing for the England job and the odds continuing to tumble at the bookmakers for him to succeed Roy Hodgson.
Sunderland sources and those close to Allardyce himself have been adamant that the Black Cats boss was merely returning to the UK to hold talks with a leading transfer target.
Allardyce - who had arrived later than the main party in Austria last week - wasn’t necessarily an integral figure at the training base anyway. He was an overseer, while the club’s fitness coach and first-team staff Robbie Stockdale and Paul Bracewell spearheaded those tentative early stages of pre-season work.
But whether Allardyce is or isn’t back on these shores to talk turkey with the FA, let’s be realistic about the situation.
Surely Allardyce will eventually (or will have already) had some informal contact with the FA, either on the phone or through his agent.
And surely at some stage, he is likely to be involved in a more formal interview process.
It’s difficult now - particularly after so much support from leading columnists, former colleagues and ex-players - to envisage the FA simply ignoring Allardyce’s credentials for the job.
If we all set aside the Sunderland allegiance, he’s the English candidate who ticks so many boxes to overhaul a rudderless side.
Yes, Allardyce has traditionally needed time to put a mark on his teams - a good three to four months at the Stadium of Light last season - but he brings a togetherness and organisation to those players at his disposal.
But even if Allardyce goes through the interview process, it’s no guarantee that he will be successful in becoming England manager.
Does Allardyce fit into the FA’s blueprint for the future of English football (and a prize for whoever can tell me what that is)?
That was the big question mark over Allardyce when Hodgson handed in his resignation and it remains one.
For one, he’d have to mesh with a system of technical directors - the very structure which saw Lee Congerton ousted at Sunderland within a couple of months of Allardyce’s arrival.
But while the incessant speculation continues over Allardyce and England, Sunderland supporters are becoming increasingly twitchy.
They’re bored by the whole saga and just want some clarity.
There has been so much managerial upheaval on Wearside during the last five years, that there are understandable fears over yet another fresh face in the dug-out - just as it looked as if Sunderland had finally got the right man.
There’s not a lot either Allardyce or Sunderland can do to temper frayed nerves though.
The FA won’t be in a hurry to conclude their plodding recruitment process. There’s no need with England’s next game another two months away.
Yet Sunderland’s fate lies firmly in the FA’s hands. Whether or not Allardyce speaks to them, they will decide if the Black Cats are forced back aboard the managerial merry-go-round.