Sam Allardyce could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief at seeing the back of March, 2016.
On-the-field, Sunderland were frustrated by successive draws against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Newcastle, with the Black Cats surrendering the advantage in all three games as they fluffed the chance to move clear of the relegation zone.
But it has been an utterly miserable month off-the-field for Sunderland, as the club’s reputation has been dragged through the mud.
Adam Johnson’s conviction for sex offences saw chief executive Margaret Byrne eventually resign after the media storm stemming from the ex-Sunderland player’s downfall.
Johnson was back in the headlines again last week after he was jailed for six years, before there was yet another off-the-field distraction on Thursday.
Emmanuel Eboue’s one-year FIFA ban for a failure to settle an outstanding debt with his former agent led Sunderland to terminate the contract of the ex-Arsenal defender, less than a month after he had penned a short-term deal at the Stadium of Light.
When asked about the succession of incidents, Allardyce said: “What’s next!
“Focusing on the football is all I can do, and deal with the situation day-to-day.
“It’s one of the interesting things about the job. No day is the same. It suits me and suits my personality.
“I’m a problem solver, I don’t like things being the same.
“I don’t like the same breakfast every day, never mind anything else.
“Problems that come along to be solved that are good, bad or indifferent are what your job is. You have to deal with them as quick as possible.”
Eboue could still have a Black Cats future if he settles the seven-figure debt with his former agent in the next few days after being given a two-week notice period of dismissal.
But, despite Eboue’s bubbly personality, Allardyce is not convinced that the loss of the right-back will have a detrimental effect on his squad after the 32-year-old had failed to make a competitive appearance in a Sunderland shirt.
“I don’t think it will affect the rest of the squad because he (Eboue) hasn’t played a significant part,” added Allardyce.
“Had he been playing on a regular basis and showing us what he used to do in Turkey and at Arsenal, then it would be a much bigger blow.
“But we haven’t yet, so it’s not such a crushing blow.”