Barely had Newcastle United boss Sam Allardyce set the ball rolling for Shola Ameobi's exit before he was bundled out of the door at St James' Park – just 24 games into his Toon reign.
In a short statement issued earlier this evening, the Magpies sent 'Big Sam' packing – heading off down the A1 with his P45 in hand.
In every likelihood, with his exit went Glenn Roeder's hopes of securing the signature of Ameobi before the January transfer window was out. Whoever now succeeds Allardyce – and Sky Sports were tonight speculating that the new boss would be British, but not bookies' favourite Alan Shearer – will in every likelihood want to give the 25-year-old striker a chance to impress and will not be quite so keen to sell the out-of-favour former England Under-21 star to the first and highest bidder.
From a distance, it would appear that the patience of the club's new owner, millionaire sports retailer Mike Ashley, had finally been exhausted as Allardyce and his reported 32-strong back room team failed to inspire much faith – either on the pitch or off it.
Ashley had, after all, played no part in appointing him. That was all the work of his predecessor Freddy Shepherd – the man who, of course, had dispensed with Roeder's services last season. Once again, the manager's post at St James' Park had proved a very poisoned chalice.
In a short statement, the club said: “Newcastle United has today parted company with Sam Allardyce as its Manager with immediate effect. This decision has been reached by mutual agreement.
“Newcastle United chairman Chris Mort said: 'Mike and I would like to place on record our thanks for Sam's efforts and wish him well for the future.
“'A new manager has not yet been appointed at Newcastle United. We will make a further announcement on the managerial position when appropriate.'
“Sam Allardyce said: 'I am disappointed to be leaving Newcastle United but I wish the Club all the best for the remainder of the season and for the future.'
“First Team coach Nigel Pearson will take charge of the team for Saturday's game at Manchester United.”
Equally, if Allardyce was under a certain amount of financial pressure to sell Ameobi before being allowed to wheel and deal, then that too will have ended tonight.
For once he installs his own man at the top, then the chances are that Ashley will start to bring his huge personal fortune to bear on proceedings – something he may well have been loathe to do for as long as Allardyce remained in charge.
Certainly the better part of ?6 million that Allardyce handed Manchester City for Joey Barton's services – a deal concluded via Barton's agent Willie Mackay; he of 'Quest' name and shame fame – will have done little to persuade Ashley to back 'Big Sam' with his money. Not when Barton spent his New Year in Walton nick following his latest brush with the authorities.
Norwich's one hope of persuading Lee Clark's long-time pal to come and join the 'Geordie Nation' gathering on the banks of the Wensum may rest on a new manager being swiftly appointed; he then adding a couple more big name strikers to the pot; leaving Ameobi to slip that much further down the pecking order.
Either that or the 6ft 2in striker – already rumoured to be thoroughly disillusioned with life at his home town club – sees this latest spin on the managerial merry-go-round as the final straw and demands a swift ticket out of the Toon.
Roeder's own public and private reaction to this evening's remarkable events will be fascinating. There is a strong feeling within the Norwich boss that history has done him no favours in terms of how his own reigns at both Newcastle and West Ham United are viewed; that few people give him any credit for actually finishing seventh in his first season on Tyneside which – given the records of Graeme Souness before him and now Allardyce after him – can be seen as no mean feat.
And that for all the talk of Allardyce being a strong candidate for the England manager's position, he fared a lot worse than Roeder in his time in the Tyneside madhouse.
But that's football. Had Ashley stayed his hand for another week or so, then Ameobi could – Bolton, Middlesborough et al permitting – have found himself being seriously courted by the Canaries; that he could have emerged as the jewel in Roeder's transfer window crown had the Smiths and the Turners found the will and the wherewithal to fund such an ambitious swoop.
Now those hopes look to have suffered a potentially fatal knock. It's back to the drawing board again; the race for Ameobi's signature over before it had ever really begun.