Michael Beale and Sunderland were always doomed - why didn't the board see it much sooner?

The Black Cats parted company with the manager on Monday.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Common sense has prevailed. I'm as shocked as you are. Sunderland Association Football Club don't often go in for overt displays of rationality - which is very probably how and why they ended up with Michael Beale as their manager in the first place - but on Monday, in a dizzying stroke of sanity, the Black Cats came to a realisation that many supporters already had a month or two prior; this was never going to work.

In the fullness of time, there is a strong chance that Beale will come to be regarded as the worst manager in Sunderland's recent history. Howard Wilkinson, it's been a good run. Just 63 days and 12 matches at the helm were enough for his presence on Wearside to sour to such an extent that it was deemed untenable by a board who, nine short weeks ago, were espousing his virtues as if he were the second coming of Sun Tzu himself.

Ultimately, however, Beale will more likely be remembered as Sunderland's very own Liz Truss; in spite of the healthy array of absolute dross that came before him, he still somehow managed to eclipse them, one and all, in swift order. Indeed, we were only about two iffy results away from somebody live streaming the slow rot of a head of lettuce. In some respects, I am astounded it never got that far.

For the briefest moment, it had looked as if there was maybe the faintest glimmer of a chance that Beale could miraculously turn things around at the Stadium of Light. Three games unbeaten from the end of January onwards, encompassing varying degrees of aesthetic surety, had some onlookers wondering whether the early calls for his dismissal and that infernal hashtag had all been a touch hasty. And then last week happened.

First, like a batch of dodgy oysters from a fixed price set menu, Sunderland ruined Valentine's Day for everybody by limping down to Huddersfield and losing 1-0. Then, on Saturday, there was the reunion with Tony Mowbray at Birmingham City - a quintessentially typical Mackem affair in which the Black Cats looked okay enough before being burnt by a former flame. These scriptwriters are becoming far too predictable. Beale was finally doomed.

Over the next week or so, a lot of column inches will be dedicated to the untangling of causation and a cacophony of speculative prattling about the frayed threads of an unravelled relationship. For what it's worth, I think the whole sorry affair boils down to one single word; disconnect.

There was a disconnect between the expectations of supporters and the realistic hiring capabilities of the board when Beale was first appointed. For that, those in charge at the Stadium of Light must shoulder their share of the accountability, and recognise just how imperative it is that their next permanent manager is actually the right man to lead this club forwards.

There was a disconnect between the unwanted coach and the fanbase from his very first match, when he was forced to apologise publicly for the heaviest defeat that any Sunderland manager has ever sustained in their inaugural home game. There was a heightened disconnect when the new man seemingly began to shift the blame for his side's sudden lack of creativity onto anybody but himself, or when he set up in a manner that rendered the Black Cats as little more than sitting ducks for large swathes of January's Wear-Tyne Derby embarrassment.

And, perhaps most damaging of all, there appears to have been an irreparable disconnect between Beale and his players. Maybe he genuinely didn't see Trai Hume on Saturday afternoon, maybe he earnestly did not intend to blank the defender's offer of an outstretched hand as he left the St. Andrews pitch. But inadvertently or otherwise, that callous moment may become an emblematic etching of Beale's fleeting tenure. There are already whispers that he had 'lost the dressing room', to borrow a moth-eaten idiom, that there was a simmering discontent which manifested itself in a stilted, frosty working ambience incomparable to that of the halcyon days of Mowbray. Only those within the club will truly know the extent to which that is a fair representation.

And yet, even taking all of that into consideration, I do feel sorry for Michael Beale. This is now two consecutive jobs in which he has been hounded out of his post much sooner than he would liked or anticipated. Regardless of what you think of his vapid stint, that cannot be an easy thing for him to come to terms with. Again, the board must also absorb their portion of flack for having the naive temerity to try and cram a square peg into a round hole.

Then, of course, there are the struggles that he and his family are enduring away from the dugout. Football really matters for nothing compared to the well being of a little girl, and everything pales when held up to the injustice of cancer. May Poppy Beale, Michael's niece, get well soon and may she ring that bell a second time. Every Mackem is behind her.

Because despite what some nonsensical reports would have you believe, this was never some kind of personal agenda against Beale. Nobody of a red and white persuasion actively wanted him to fail, nor were they bothered by his southern accent - no matter how much his pull string high performance corporate jargon would occasionally grate.

Instead, Sunderland fans did not take to Beale because he came in and made their team noticeably worse. It really is that simple. You cannot blame him for taking the job in the first place, or for trying his hand at a club in possession of such obvious potential, but the instinctive feeling from the outset was that this was a wild goose chase, a bland hiding to nothing. It's just a shame it took the board so long to realise that was the case.