It is not just because we are still in November and Sunderland are the first club to lose their nerve and sack their manager, but getting rid of Steve Bruce was a spineless act by the Wearsiders.

True enough Brucie’s boys only won two of their 13 Premier League matches so far this season. But the board must accept their fair share of the blame for Sunderland’s disappointing decline since they hit the top six at the end of January and finished a respectable 10th at the end of last season.

It was against the manager’s wishes that the Black Cats sold out when they let Darren Bent join Aston Villa for £24m earlier this year with the team soaring. And the subsequent loss of £13m signing Asamoah Gyan in September when Bruce claimed “parasites” lured the striker away from the Stadium of Light compounded the side’s lack of potency in front of goal.

For chairman Ellis Short to announce today’s sacking as being in the “best interests of our football club” is hypocritical because had he done what was right for the club and given the manager the financial support he needed, Bent and Gyan may still be playing for Sunderland and Bruce would not be looking for a new job.

Ellis has stated: “It is my job to act in the best interests of our football club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly. Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.”

In my humble opinion these are hollow words from a ruthless chairman who should be taking his share of the blame. But the means will justify the ends if Sunderland succeed in signing up Martin O’Neill as their new boss and finish up nearer the top of the table than the bottom.