The ironic coincidence of the Premier League fixture list means that Sam Allardyce will be at the Stadium of Light tomorrow week but after yesterday's developments at Blackburn, he will be in the visitors' dugout, not Sunderland's.
Allardyce had been the bookmakers' favourite to replace Roy Keane since the Irishman's departure a fortnight ago, but that status was not created by the Sunderland boardroom. Had he been the man the Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn wished to install, a telephone call would have been made to Allardyce within 48 hours of Keane walking away. To Allardyce's obvious dismay, that call did not come.
There is a belief that Allardyce's position at Newcastle – he was manager at St James' Park at the turn of 2008 – was a factor in Sunderland's reticence but this is erroneous. From Quinn's office at Sunderland he can see the statue of Bob Stokoe outside the Stadium of Light, a daily reminder of what one former Newcastle player did for Wearside.
There must be other reasons why Sunderland did not move for Allardyce. One is timing: the club was shocked by Keane's resignation and had spent the days before it trying to persuade Keane to stay. They were not canvassing alternatives and there is a determination now not to act in haste.
It could be 2009 before there is an appointment and caretaker manager Ricky Sbragia, Allardyce's assistant at Bolton for four years, is expected to be opposite him tomorrow week.