After a season of poor performances, dire results and the crumbling of an air of invincibility which flowed through Old Trafford for nearly a quarter of a century, the axe has finally fallen on David Moyes. The Scot's tenure at Old Trafford was bookended by failure. After enduring a horrid summer transfer window where a host of world class names were linked but never actually joined, Moyes suffered one final ignominy last weekend by losing badly inside the very stadium where he forged the reputation which brought him to Old Trafford.
As Moyes and his charges sat dejected inside the Away dressing room on Sunday afternoon he must have let his mind wander back inside the Home kit room, the place where he masterminded many a victory for the Toffees. Everton, the team he helped create, are now knocking on the door of the Champions League, while the team he took charge of - the current champions of England - appear neutered and anaemic, a mere facsimile of what they used to be.
Appointing a manager with an experience deficit at the highest level to the top job in world football was always going to be a gamble but even the most ardent of the anti-United brigade didn't see such abject failure on the horizon. Manchester United preached stability when they appointed Moyes, as if his accent and place of birth had decreed that his eventual knighthood was a mere formality, a policy which now lies in tatters.
Success, though, isn't inherited; it's earned. Alex Ferguson's ability to paper over the substantial cracks at Old Trafford are a measure of the man's managerial ability and motivational skills but his successive failure to sign any decent central midfielders over the course of his final few seasons has ultimately added to the situation the club finds itself in.
Indeed, the great man's shadow still looms unreasonably large over Old Trafford. He defined the club over the course of 26 years, setting standards to such a high degree that no one, especially a supposed carbon copy in the shape of Moyes, could realistically achieve in ten months. Then, when held in contrast to his predecessor, Moyes was deemed a failure.
Is this fair? David Moyes definitely doesn't deserve the level of ridicule being levelled at him. He is a man who was offered his dream job, took it with both hands but ended up being spectacularly unsuited to it. He'll always be the guy who failed to replace Alex Ferguson, the Wilf McGuinness to our Matt Busby, and now matter what happens throughout the rest of his career, he'll never shake that. It's been a thrilling ride for the neutrals; everyone loves watching a team derail themselves so efficiently. But on a human level it made for tremendously uncomfortable viewing as Moyes stuttered both in the media and on the sidelines.
What happens now? Manchester United will likely do what they should have done a year ago and appoint a hugely experienced manager. Louis Van Gaal or Guus Hiddink, both presumably available, would fit the bill. If they want an exciting young manager, Ajax's Frank De Boer or (the most likely unavailable) Jurgen Klopp from Borussia Dortmund would be ideal candidates. Some even suggest that Manchester United may try to tempt Jose Mourinho from Chelsea or Pep Guardiola from Bayern Munich. But expect Manchester United's manager to have a much more spectacular CV than david Moyes', or even Alex Ferguson's before that as they move towards appointing a manager from outside the British Isles for the first time in the club's history.
As for David Moyes, Alan Pardew's time at Newcastle seems numbered and that is a club where the Scot could bring some stability. Aston Villa seem to be another club who might be making a managerial change in the near future and that might tempt him, but the most likely scenario for now is that Moyes will opt to retreat from the public eye for some time and nurse the wounds that come with being part of one of the most spectacular stories of failure in the modern game.