As clear as fans at St James' Park had made it that they no longer wanted to see Alan Pardew in their home dugout, his decision to leave Newcastle for Crystal Palace in January caught many by surprise.
Not only was he jilting four-time Premier League podium finishers and four-time English champions for a team relegated four times in five top-flight campaigns, but he was tasked with rivalling Tony Pulis' mid-season revival last term, lifting the Eagles from the relegation zone all the way up to 11th.
Pardew started off a position higher (18th) and with more points in the bank (17 from 20 games to Pulis' seven from 12), but crucially with eight matches fewer with which to sprinkle the stardust.
The fact that he has already launched them to 11th and three points shy of Pulis' 45-point 2013/14 haul with six to play is therefore exceptional and, given that the baseball-cap fan was rewarded with the Premier League Manager of the Season award, Pardew deserves to be rated a contender.
Since the former Palace midfielder first stepped inside the Selhurst Park technical area, just the top three (Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea) have collected more points than their 25.
The south Londoners have won eight times in 12 encounters, achieving the period's third highest goal tally (22), beating Tottenham and Man City and losing to just Everton, Arsenal and Southampton, all by one-goal margins.
As a result, they are four points clear of Everton and have three options when it comes to top-half clubs to replace, with stuttering West Ham and Stoke one point ahead and Swansea catchable on 47 to the form side's 42.
For the Eagles to still be available at odds as tempting as 2.26/5 for a top-ten finish, you would assume that they have a fiendish final six fixtures, but that isn't the case.
Four of that half-dozen are at home, two of them to flagging teams below them (West Brom and Hull) and another against Swansea, presenting the perfect chance to make up the aforementioned ground.
Two road trips aren't a worry either because away days have been their speciality under Pardew. They have won seven in eight since his appointment, including five in six in the Premier League, with top-half trio Southampton, West Ham and Stoke among the victims.
At the very least, Palace supporters are unlikely to be purchasing the domain name of SackPardew.com off their Toon Army counterparts any time soon.