Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t – Derek McInnes has been caught in a no-man’s land due to Rangers’ excruciating inactivity.
Granted there is the valid argument that McInnes could have ended it all stone dead with seven simple words: I don’t want to go to Rangers.
But why should he? Especially when for almost six weeks there had been no approach from the Ibrox club to make any interest in McInnes concrete.
McInnes was perfectly entitled to keep his options open and assess the situation now the Gers have finally come calling – although Aberdeen rejected their first request to speak to him immediately.
It would be naive in the extreme for anyone to think the 46-year-old would not be interested in the Ibrox gig.
He is a former player and Rangers, regardless of their recent troubles, are a big club.
If McInnes came out and shot down speculation with a definitive no to Rangers it would end any chance of at least having a look at the situation and listening to what the Ibrox board have to say.
Negotiations go two ways and it is a disservice to McInnes to assume that he will just simply jump in the door at Ibrox now they have finally broken out of their stifling inactivity to make a move.
McInnes has been the favourite and outstanding candidate to succeed Pedro Caixinha since day one of this six-week saga.
Now Rangers have moved, it will be the clarity that is needed from McInnes, as well as the Reds.
At least now the big top will finally begin to close on this circus, one way or another, for the Dons.
Since October 24, for 42 days, McInnes has been forced to negotiate an ambassadorial tightrope that would unnerve the most seasoned of politicians.
He attempted to distance himself from Rangers’ shambolic search for a manager last month, in tandem with Dons chairman Stewart Milne. The message was that McInnes was happy at Pittodrie.
He said: “I had a good chat with the chairman and we have a very good relationship, which is key for any manager, and I just reiterate what he’s said. I’m happy here.
“This is where I see myself and nothing changes that.
“I can’t do anything about speculation.”
It was an attempt to move focus back on to the football. Crucially though, McInnes didn’t say those seven words the Dons supporters wanted.
That is because he has every right to have the discussion, to assess the pros and cons – just as he did with Sunderland, who he rejected, this summer.
Once he has had that discussion, then McInnes can work out if he wants it or not.
So what do Rangers, and the Reds, offer? For Dons legend Willie Miller the stability behind the scenes at debt-free Aberdeen is crucial.
The Dons posted an operating profit of £533,000 for year ending June 30, 2017.
Turnover also increased by almost £13.4 million to £15.2m.
In contrast, Rangers posted a net loss of £6.7m for last season and rely on loans.
Miller said: “Losing McInnes would be a huge blow as he has brought the team success.
“Off the park, Aberdeen are strong as they have received new investment.
“Aberdeen recently beat the revenue that was achieved when they got through the UEFA Cup group stages when I was at the club.
“That was the record turnover, which was about £12.5m and way beyond what was achieved before.
“In the last year, with gate receipts and player sales, it was in excess of £15m.
“There is new funding coming into the club through investors. All of that is in good shape behind the scenes.”
All is not good behind the scenes at Ibrox. The protracted nature of the managerial search proved that and does not send out a good message about how the board operates.
How can that lack of communication be negotiated when dealing with the board for signings, budgets and also what exactly will director of football Mark Allen’s role be?
Just how fluid will the lines of communication be between the new manager and a chairman based in South Africa?
It would be far removed from regular meetings McInnes has with chairman Milne.
The Gers have the cash to attempt to secure McInnes but there is likely to be little available to the new boss for the rebuild needed to challenge Celtic.
Chinese construction firm Broad Sustainable Building erected a 57-storey skyscraper in just 19 days in 2015.
So why has it taken Rangers six weeks to come up with the man everyone knew was the outstanding candidate the minute Caixinha was given his P45?
Throughout this fiasco, it was solely up to Rangers to bring clarity to this situation by confirming if McInnes was a target or not.
They failed to do that. Frustratingly it was allowed to rumble on into the double header between the clubs, with the Reds losing both.
There is no doubt the speculation has had a detrimental effect on the Dons’ performances, with just four points earned out of the last 15.
It will leave a bitter taste that it was allowed to move beyond a double header that had such bearing on the Premiership campaign.
If McInnes does end nearly five years at Pittodrie to move to Rangers, then the Pittodrie board must be far more proactive then Rangers in quickly appointing a successor.
They have had six weeks of this speculation rumbling to at least come up with a Plan B that they would have hoped not to be using.
However, it still needs to be there.
There has to be a list of potential candidates scoped out because, if it wasn’t Rangers coming calling, it would eventually be another team.
It was Sunderland in June and the issue of potentially replacing McInnes would have to have been addressed then.