Four to one on. That was the starting point, on Saturday night, when people were picking over the embers of a burnt-out football club.
Bookmakers like the sack race. By the time Aston Villa had demolished the brittle remnants of pride in Sunderland and its football club, Gus Poyet had more or less lapped any competitors among his peers to be the next dismissed. Poor old Sam Allardyce has rarely been so ignored, 8-1. He was not at the races.
That is the starting point. Then come the plethora of texts. “Has he gone yet?” You are quickly forgotten in the hearts and minds of football fans. By Saturday night, after phone calls, Poyet, the “he” in question, had not gone.
In fact, the volatile bottle-kicking Uruguayan did not give the impression of going anywhere, except home to brood over the sorry state of his team and what precious little impact he has had in the 18 months since he took the reins of a club that was out of control under Paolo Di Canio.
They have had a high turnover in the dugout at the Stadium of Light, which would explain why irate fans headed there on Saturday afternoon, to scream at the people in charge of the mess that was unfolding on the pitch. A season ticket was thrown, and you suspect the person in question will not want it back.
In the stands sat Roy Keane, caught on camera, assessing the continued mess Sunderland have sunk into since he resurrected the place. It was a different club back then, when Keane and Niall Quinn took the supporters on a magical adventure, from bottom of the second tier of English football, back to the Premier League.
By the time Saturday’s 4-0 defeat was on the brink of finishing, most of the 45,000 supporters had remembered that the pub or home were places that could offer a stack more enjoyment than the ground they trudge to every couple of weeks.
Most had headed for the exit in the 37th minute and no one could blame them. Aston Villa led 3-0 by then, Christian Benteke had scored once, Gabby Agbonlahor twice and every time they attacked it looked like another goal.
A fourth arrived before half-time, another for the reborn Benteke, and for the second half the majority of Sunderland supporters did not return. And once more, you could not blame then.
They have seen Sunderland win twice at home in the Premier League this season and it has gone beyond grim, to the extent where they punch the letters into their mobile phone. “Has he gone yet?”
Poyet had not gone and he was calm, if honest enough to accept that he could be getting the call from an owner, Ellis Short, who has ditched Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill and Di Canio in the last three and half years.
“I am not going to send a message via you,” he said, when asked if he was worried. “I am just doing what I need to do. Call me tomorrow then after that you will probably know because everything is coming out, but at the moment I cannot think about that. I need to think about the job, what happened in the first half and to start putting things right.” He did not, however, give the impression of being a manager ready to resign.
A piece with David Moyes recently revealed the former Everton manager has 57 acres of land. You do not get 57 acres by resigning. Allardyce has a place in Spain paid for by the blundering Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. Managers are phenomenally well paid men, and they do not resign, no matter that the players are not playing for them or the tactics are so stupefyingly dull or a team at 3-0 down and with fans pouring from the ground still does not seize the moment and start attacking the other goal as if their very being depended on it.
Sunderland kept the miserable shape that forced their own supporters out of their own ground, and Poyet, for the time being at least, looks set to keep his job, largely because of the lack of a viable alternative, and also the fact that he might be able to cobble together the nine points that would prolong the misery of being a rank poor Premier League team, something which these days will see you pick up the best part of £100m.