It is easy, with the benefit of hindsight, to suggest that David Moyes was never likely to be capable of filling Sir Alex Ferguson's shoes at Manchester United.
When Moyes was appointed as Ferguson's successor last summer, the unprecedented six-year contract handed to him by the club's restructured hierarchy gave the strongest indication of all - even more then the ringing endorsement of Ferguson - that he would be given football's most precious commodity, time.
However, that time has been called on Moyes only 10 months into his tenure, quick even by recent Premier League standards, which was unflattering compared with the Italian league of 20 years ago by former United defender Gary Neville this week.
In a statement, the club said it "would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role".
Manchester United - and Moyes in particular - have made a series of miscalculations this season that has left their title defence in tatters.
Indeed, according his detractors at Old Trafford, miscalculations would be too soft a description.
Reports suggest that Moyes has alienated senior players such as Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie and Ryan Giggs, which has in turn allowed some of United's younger squad members to push the boundaries of the Scot's control further than they would have ever dared under Ferguson
But even if you doubt the authenticity of such reports, the decision-making of Moyes has been questionable from the beginning, especially when you consider that the primary reason behind his appointment was to provide a consistent transition from Ferguson's generation-long reign.
One of his first decisions was to dispense with the backroom staff that had served his predecessor well in recent seasons and bring in his own team of trusty lieutenants from Everton despite the lack of silverware among them.
Moyes has also - staggering - not yet named the same starting XI for consecutive matches, while he has been tactically out-thought by not only the experienced managers of Manchester City and Chelsea but also the relative novices at Liverpool and Everton.
But Moyes' greatest shortcoming was perhaps his own judgement that he was capable of bridging the enormous gap left by Ferguson's sudden retirement.
Ferguson's own verdict might be called into question on this point, too.
That the pair were friends and fellow Scots would have certainly clouded the decision-making process, as would have the feeling that, given time, Moyes would gently, gradually mould the club into his own, just as Ferguson had been allowed to do in the late 1980s before the raft of success enjoyed during the 1990s and 2000s.
The benefit of hindsight allows us all to see that managing Manchester United has been a step too far for Moyes at this stage in his career.
He has been seriously let down by a number of his senior players - Wayne Rooney excluded it must be mentioned - as well as by the club's hierarchy during last summer's disastrous transfer dealings.
But Moyes must still carry the can for a woeful defence of the Premier League crown that the club won by 11 points last season as well as failure in the cup competitions, which has been all the more difficult for supporters to accept because of the numerous insipid displays from their side throughout the campaign.
The thinness of United's attacking threat compared with that on offer by champions-elect Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton - Moyes' former employers of course - must have left a seriously bad taste in the mouth of the United owners.
Indeed, Everton's transformation under Roberto Martinez might not have helped Moyes' plight, with Sunday's 2-0 win for the Toffees confirming that United would miss out on Champions League football next season and thus allowing the club to fire Moyes with only a one-year payoff under the terms of his contract.
© Marc Fox & Soccerphile