David Moyes issued his apology – the latest from a club all too familiar with on and off-the-field crises.
Getting exasperated with the continued questioning, he unintentionally threw light onto the football industry’s often uncomfortable relationship with women.
“As I said, I’ve apologised to the girl,” he added.
The “girl” being an intelligent grown woman employed by the BBC’s flagship show with the right to ask a pertinent question, without being warned she might get a “slap”.
The reporter, Vicki Sparks, has kept her own counsel, never wanting to be the story — or the subject of the neanderthal backlash such a furore can create.
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WATCH IN FULL: David Moyes ‘regrets’ slap comments
The same question, after the goalless draw to Burnley, was later asked by male newspaper reporters, none of whom were warned they risked being slapped.
Once again, it is Sunderland in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
On the pitch, Moyes has failed to bring the club to life with a season of failure that is seeing them slip out of the Premier League with little fight after years of circling the drain.
He talks of the club wanting stability in the hot-seat.
But late-season sackings have sparked miracle escapes in recent campaigns, and for many a fan, keeping Moyes in his post signals that Sunderland have given up on staying up.
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David Moyes threatens to “slap” BBC reporter
Financially, the club is in dire straits.
Owner Ellis Short has lost interest and stopped bankrolling their annual losses a few years back.
New managing director Martin Bain has put many club staff on notice ahead of summer cutbacks if, as seems likely, they are relegated and lose £60million-plus in TV income next season.
One of Bain’s first cuts was one of their more enlightened projects.
In January, Sunderland AFC Ladies were ordered to go part-time, after three years of employing full-time players.
Moyes insisted on Monday he was a big supporter of women’s football.
He said: “I think if you look at my history, I have actually been one of the biggest ones campaigning for women’s football.
I tried to make sure we had Everton Ladies. At Manchester United, I was very keen on them having one. My daughter played for Preston until she was 19.
“I think you all know my character, you know who I am. Anybody you want to ask to speak for me, they will tell you different (from this incident).”
Officially, Sunderland are trusting that Moyes is sincere in his apology and say they won’t be sacking him.
But they have tried to quell controversies in the past, leading to rancour and disillusionment from the more enlightened in their fan base.
Chief exec Margaret Byrne quit over the Adam Johnson disgrace.
Johnson was jailed for sexual activity with a child, and it emerged the club had been given details of the allegations of his offences by the police at an early stage.
Despite knowing the seriousness of the case, they allowed him to play on — and score key goals as they escaped relegation.
There was a storm over the right-wing political beliefs of Paulo Di Canio when he was appointed manager.
Durham miners said Di Canio’s arrival was “a disgrace and a betrayal of all who fought and died in the fight against fascism’.
Former Foreign secretary David Miliband quit as the club’s vice-chairman over Di Canio, but Byrne said the dissenting voices were an “insult to the integrity of the club.”
As with those other controversies, Sunderland will blunder on — like they did for the two weeks Bain and Short knew what had been said.
Moyes’ rock-bottom side visit resurgent champions Leicester on Wednesday night.
Eight points from safety with nine games to play, they need a win.
He was asked at his Monday press conference whether time was running out — he’ll be hoping it isn’t for him, even if Sunderland look doomed to relegation.
Moyes answered: “Yes. We’re very close to needing (miracles) to happen. We’ve been needing it for a while, but I think now we’re really needing things to happen.
“This is a big week, we needed to win. If we don’t, then we’re going to be really detached.”