Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it impossible for the Manchester United board not to sack him in the end.
They wanted to wait until the end of the season before making a managerial change, but everything that has gone wrong under Solskjaer this season was evident in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road.
The Norwegian maintained he could turn it around, but the players clearly did not agree based on this display, and ultimately nobody did.
His demeanour on the touchline and in his post-match press conference suggested he was not convincing anyone.
Solskjaer had left the pitch to a rare angry reaction from United fans as he went to applaud and apologise to them in equal measure to a back drop of a venomous blast of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ from dazed and confused Watford supporters.
It was a pitiful scene to match a pitiful performance and was exacerbated by Watford’s Zoom camera technology failing when he dutifully appeared for his newspaper media duties.
“You don’t need to see me today, I don’t think,” said a hollow voice on a blacked out computer screen as we proceeded to talk but not see the dead man walking for his thoughts on the game and his future.
Word had already reached us in the press box of an emergency board meeting with Solskjaer’s dismissal the first and final subject on the agenda.
Like United fans, the club’s American owners really wanted one of United’s favourite sons to succeed too. But this United side is well and truly broken.
Watford’s Claudio Ranieri knew it too when he said: “I told my players to press from the start and look what happened!”
Watford remain relegation candidates despite this display but panicked Bruno Fernandes into a horror clearance after only six minutes. Scott McTominay conceded a penalty and was lucky not to be sent off trying to mop up the mess.
When David de Gea, the only United player to emerge with credit, saved Ismail Sarr’s twice taken spot-kick, there was a sense Watford’s best opportunity had already been and gone.
Not with this shambolic United side. How did they finish runners-up last season?
Captain Harry Maguire, like his manager, has become a figure of fun and played up to the role by singularly failing to marshal his defence as Watford took a deserved half-time lead through Josh King and Sarr.
Maguire later got himself needlessly sent off for two bookable offences at a stage when United could have still snatched a draw or more.
Donny van de Beek had come on at the break to pull one back and Cristiano Ronaldo was increasingly getting chances to equalise.
With Maguire went his side’s and Solskjaer’s hopes of salvation as Watfordd’s injury-time goals from Joao Pedro and Dennis were fully deserved. Maguire’s confidence and self-belief look shot and he could do with a winter break for his and United’s collective sanity.
Van de Beek’s contribution and the relentless chanting of his name from the United end was also a symbol of what is lopsided in Manchester right now.
Solskjaer was said to be un