When Reading sacked Brian McDermott at the start of last week, the suspicion was that Anton Zingarevich, the club's Russian owner, had made a knee-jerk decision with little thought for the ramifications, in particular how difficult it would be to recruit a replacement so late in the season and at a time when the club's short-term prospects look so bleak.
Twelve days and a rejection from a Championship manager later nothing has changed that view.
Gus Poyet's decision to knock back Reading, who are level on points with Queens Park Rangers at the bottom of the Premier League, and instead to stay with a Brighton & Hove Albion side on the verge of the Championship play-offs, was not much of a surprise in the end.
With eight games remaining and Reading seven points adrift of safety, Zingarevich is effectively advertising for a Championship manager who is happy to have a Premier League relegation on his CV. Not a particularly appealing prospect, especially if you are already working for an ambitious Championship club.
It seems rather ironic to think that McDermott was in almost the same position as Poyet last season, when Wolverhampton Wanderers approached the then Reading manager after Mick McCarthy was sacked in the wake of a 5-1 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion in February's Black Country derby.
McDermott eventually decided he was better off staying at Reading and, after a protracted and painful search for a new manager, Wolves ended up giving the job to McCarthy's assistant, Terry Connor, until the end of the season. It was a farce and the rest – nine defeats and four draws from 13 matches, leading to Wolves being relegated three weeks before the end of the season – is history.
The question now is whether Reading, because of the ludicrous timing of Zingarevich's decision to sack McDermott and the absence of a clear plan with regard to his successor, are in danger of falling into the same trap.
Eamonn Dolan, who is highly respected for his work in the club's academy, was placed in charge in a caretaker capacity for the trip to Old Trafford last Saturday, where Reading gave a decent account of themselves but lost 1-0. In theory, that was supposed to be Dolan's first and last game.
With the international break coming up on the back of the Manchester United match, Reading felt they had some breathing space and were hopeful that an appointment would be made in good time for the new manager to get to grips with the job, and the playing squad, before the trip to Arsenal next Saturday.
For all we know that may still turn out to be the case; Zingarevich could have a cunning plan up his sleeve and be closing in on a top manager whose name will excite the supporters and put an end to the debate about whether he was right or wrong to get rid of McDermott. An alternative view would be that the Russian is making this up as he goes along.
Zingarevich is believed to be keen to attract a stellar name, someone whose profile will bring a measure of excitement to the Madejski Stadium. Paolo Di Canio and Roberto Di Matteo were both strongly linked with the position early on but Reading have given no indication that they are keen on the former while the latter appears to be out of their reach.
Nigel Adkins's name has been prominent throughout, although there are doubts over whether the former Southampton manager would be prepared to take the job. Much more of this and the shortlist is going to become a longlist.
If it was hard to see at the time what Zingarevich could gain by dismissing McDermott so late in the season, when there would be no opportunity for the new manager to overhaul the playing squad, the decision makes less sense by the day. Few people would argue that Reading, promoted against the odds last season and among the lowest spenders in the Premier League this summer, were underachieving under McDermott.
Even one of their own players felt that they were out of their depth because of Zingarevich's failure to release the purse strings. "We are a good Championship team trying to compete in the Premier League," Jimmy Kébé, talking with refreshing honesty, said in December.
It is tempting to think a few of the candidates Reading have looked at, including Poyet, have weighed up the squad and come to the same conclusion as Kébé, which must do wonders for the rest of the players' confidence when they realise other managers are giving them a wide berth.
McDermott, on the other hand, would have kept ploughing on, which may not have been such a bad thing in the circumstances.
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