Ashley brought in Joe Kinnear, allegedly to coax Pardew to leave ... and a six-week silence had Pardew on the back foot.
But that eight-year contract was always going to keep Pardew on Tyneside, unless Ashley coughed up compensation.
And, as we all know, Ashley is as tight-fisted as he is suborn.
Poyet's Spurs link was a major factor - as Spurs diehard supporter Ashley knew him from his days at White Hart Lane.
But now he is boss at the Stadium of Shite, and former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton says he always felt Poyet was cut out to make the transition into management.
Will he halt Sunderland's Barclays Premier League slide into the Championship?
The Uruguayan - who left Brighton last summer having guided them to the Championship play-offs - took over on Wearside in October after Paolo di Canio's colourful reign was brought to an end.
Hughton - who coached Poyet when they worked together at Tottenham - feels the 46-year-old has all the traits to become a successful manager.
Chris Hughton: "Gus was a wonderful player, but was always very passionate about the way he played the game and his thoughts on the game, so it was no surprise to me that he went into coaching and management.
"The biggest task for him at Sunderland was he had a lot of players who had been brought in during the summer by the previous manager.
"Gus' responsibility now will be to put his own stamp on the team and I am quite sure he will do that.
"Sunderland will be boosted to have got through to the semi-finals of the League Cup, and that boosts confidence.
"Will they stay up? Although I have Newcastle links and I shouldn't say this in case I upset the Geordies, but I believe they will."