Kevin Keegan and Newcastle United were scheduled to have a second round of talks last night as the two parties seek an agreeable conclusion to the fall-out from the breakdown in relationships at the top of the club.
As they did so there was growing discontent at the training ground, where Chris Hughton again stood in for Keegan. Newcastle's players, some of whom are known to be unenthusiastic about Dennis Wise's presence at the club, are strongly supportive of Keegan and disillusioned by the turn of events. There is talk of revolt should Wise and the hierarchy be seen to triumph at Keegan's expense, though how this could be achieved is unclear.
But Newcastle are in danger of tearing themselves apart and whether yesterday's discussions mean those players will work with Keegan again at St James' Park remains in serious doubt.
Superficially, it seems that the intervention of the League Managers' Association, led by Richard Bevan, is aimed at reconciliation, but it will surely require a major change of direction at Newcastle for Keegan to be in the dug-out on Saturday week when Hull City visit. The conversation is as likely to be about compensation as much as retrieving the unravelling situation.
Without revealing who attended discussions – it is not known if owner Mike Ashley was present – Bevan said yesterday afternoon: "We have held a first round of talks and further talks are being planned for this evening."
In the morning the club had released a statement saying: "Newcastle United Football Club can confirm that discussions are ongoing between the board and Kevin Keegan. Both the club and Kevin would like to reiterate that Kevin remains as manager. He has not resigned nor has he been sacked, as has been confirmed in respective statements made by Kevin and Newcastle United."
As was thought on Tuesday night, there is an apparent dispute regarding who said what and when and what the implications were. With Keegan less than eight months into a three and a half year contract, there are matters of compensation to be clarified.
There remains the outside possibility of a resolution that would see Keegan resume his duties and one friend of his, quoted anonymously, said: "Kevin still wants the job, make no mistake about that, but he would like to be able to buy his own players."
That is the crux of the crisis, who decides which players are bought and sold. The extent of Wise's recruitment role is unpalatable to Keegan, the full scale of that was shown once the transfer window closed on Monday.
For Keegan to return he would want full control over first-team squad affairs and that would eat into Wise's remit. Ashley may thus feel pushed into making a choice, a position he will dislike.
"I absolutely believe 100 per cent in the structure we have in place," Ashley said in a club publication last month. "Kevin and Dennis are both passionate characters... Some people think it was a high-risk strategy, I'd say it could bring us high rewards."
'Boycott the Hull game': What Newcastle fans are saying on the web
Sorry to hear about Kevin's trouble (again)... As far as being the messiah, I think there is a mess 'igher up.
Boycott the Hull game! I will NEVER attend another game while Ashley is in charge, and many others are saying they will do the same!
I support Newcastle. I do not give a flying foook about Keegan or Ashley. I will be attending all matches to support my home town club, and no one will stop me.
We could have been owned by a billionaire Arab that lost more money down the back of his sofa than Ashley has in the bank.
I wish clubs could go back to how they were. A silent chairmen with a cheque book... and a manager who does exactly that - MANAGE.
*Not even Mulder and Sculler could solve the Mystery of Newcastle United.