Why has Chris Coleman been let go? Why is Ellis Short making managerial changes when he's about the sell the club? We make sense of Sunday's chaos.
All good things must come to an end. Sometimes before they even start.
After the hype of getting an exciting new man-crush in the dugout, it's fair to say Chris Coleman failed to live up to our wild expectations.
The Welshman vaulted over the low bar Simon Grayson had set for him, but failed to be the unhinged disciplinarian we probably needed him to be.
Still Coleman's sacking was unexpected for three simple reasons.
1. Coleman couldn't keep us up, but he wasn't the reason we went down.
2. Money. If he walked before he was pushed, the club would save.
3. He was readying a gameplan for next season.
That last point is a big one. While finances were uncertain, Coleman wanted to stay and change what he could. And as hard as it is to admit, how rare is it to find someone so passionate who wants to remain at Wearside?
While in hindsight Coleman was the wrong man for the job this season, he would have been invaluable next year.
As I've hinted before, Sunderland's reputation has never been lower. Attracting the right talent to play in a half empty stadium in the north east is an embarrassingly difficult task, even at a club this big.
Coleman would have been the main selling point in that situation – a League One manager admired on a national scale.
Yet, Ellis Short is having none of it.
A trigger-happy Tinder addict would be impressed with how the club's American owner sifted through managers this past decade. Is he just malicious?
Short leaving the club to a party willing and capable of making Sunderland battle-ready is a huge positive. As is writing off the club’s debt. So he certainly seems to have our best interests at heart.
So why two steps forward to take another step back?
Well, there are two reasons.
First of all, there's the small matter of money. Short made it clear that he was only willing to sell to someone 1) capable of taking on the club's debt, and 2) who is willing to put the club first.
The fact that the chairman has since rummaged down the back of the sofa and found enough lint to put the Cats back in the black means he's had to sacrifice one priority for another.
As I understand it, debt became a stumbling block throughout negotiations. Short, it seems, had to compromise for the "right" people.
As he himself proved, owners and managers don't always get along, so Coleman's departure may have been on the cards anyways.
By this logic, Cookie's compensation package would just be part of the club's debt, albeit a slightly delayed one. So Short was responsible for handling that expense too.
Secondly, while the president-unelect made poor calls atop our tree, he obvious was emotionally invested in the club.
If he'd given the Stadium a lick of paint, tossed the keys to the new owners, and just strolled out, he'd forever be remembered with anger.
Reading everything Short has put out over the past few seasons, his aim can be summed up in two words - "clean break".
His aim was always to get the team back into the top half of the Premier League. To leave the club in a more robust shape than he'd found it.
However, now it's clear that such ambition is at least two years away (and probably much, much longer), he's been forced to settle for leaving the club as a blank canvas.
Wanting to put their own stamp on the club as many do in that situation, the mysterious consortium would have fired Coleman as their first act in charge – something that would have turned the stomachs of the fans they need to impress.
Ironically, when Short told us the new owner would write off our debt and have the club's best interests at heart, he summed up his final act as chairman.
He's cleared the launchpad. Let's hope things take off.*
*I stand by that pun. Fight me.