As a chastened Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heads back to his native Norway, does he take with him the dark clouds that have hung for so long over his beloved Manchester United?
It is a perhaps ironic question to ask of a man whose initial brief was to remove the toxic mist that had choked the club during the final weeks of Jose Mourinho’s tenure.
It seems to be an integral part of the United coach’s job description these days. Managing the team comes with the greater burden of being next in line to purge the infection that clogs up the club’s veins.
While the managers struggle to varying degrees to force football matters to the top of Old Trafford agenda, the real rot is in the background, sucking the life out of everything.
Make no mistake, there’s no reason for fans to have genuine optimism as long as the voices of Joel Glazer and Ed Woodward drown everything else out.
After the aborted European Super League refocused minds towards the corrosive cabal who tried to unstitch the fabric of football for the sake of their own greed, there was a fleeting chance of change.
Fans were assured that lessons had been learned.
However, any mention of the latest manager search seems to gravitate around the wearisome names of Joel Glazer, Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold. It gives the impression that football decisions are still in the wrong hands.
Aside from having greater control over football matters, what else will the next manager need to fix?
Firstly, he’ll find a side that lacks an identity. At various points during Solskjaer’s reign fans have witnessed counter-attacking through to half-hearted pressing without any approach fully convincing.
To win over those fans, they’ll demand to see an identity. Preferably one that aligns with tradition and plays high-energy, front-foot football.
Next up, players will need to be picked on performance alone. Tolerating sub-standard displays should no longer be an option. The squad is deep enough for a return to the dog-eat-dog mentality of the club’s best years.
The issue of midfield also can’t be ignored. It might be could argued that, his failure to find a structure and personnel that balanced defence and attack went a long way towards Solskjaer’s dismissal.
If there’s money in the war chest, the new manager needs to be afforded at least one, probably two, top class midfielders. With Paul Pogba seeming destined to leave, that could mean a third.
Maybe the Academy could be leaned upon for a new star-in-waiting?
Finally there’s the thorny issue of Cristiano Ronaldo. Common consensus is that he’s a luxury who can’t be accommodated in the modern game.
The flip side is that, for all the criticism of his work rate, he still has the priceless ability to win any game. It’s a huge call.
Plenty to consider then. Hopefully the scale of the task isn’t so big that it deters the right candidate from taking up the poisoned chalice.
The potential rewards are huge. Get it right and immortality beckons. Get it wrong and the stink of failure could take years to remove. Such is life at the world’s biggest, craziest club.