When David Moyes was announced as long-reigning Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, it seemed almost unfathomable that he would become embroiled in the Premier League sack race within the first few months of the new season.
He had, after all, Ferguson's blessing. Sir Alex issued a public plea for patience with Moyes and the club provided a vote of confidence with their agreement on a six-year deal.
What has followed since then, however, has been an underwhelming period of summer transfer window activity, sub-par Premier League performances and a humiliating loss to noisy neighbours Manchester City.
Confrontational Italian Paolo di Canio has already won this year's sack race. Sunderland terminated his contract as, just 13 games into his run as Black Cats boss, an unprecedented player revolt led to his position becoming untenable.
The favourites to follow di Canio as the next managerial casualty are, according to bookmaking consensus, Martin Jol of Fulham, Norwich City's Chris Hughton and Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.
But, how much worse will it have to get at Old Trafford before Moyes is mentioned in this company? A League Cup third round defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool on Wednesday evening? Perpetual poor form in the Champions League? Or reverses to the top clubs during a potentially turbulent winter period?
Moyes, as reported by Manchester Evening News, called for patience when it comes to appraising his position and reminded observers that whoever succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson would never be overseeing a 'smooth' transition.
Moyes also conceded that he was not prepared for the magnitude of the task.
'I don't think it was ever going to be the case this was going to be easy and smooth after Sir Alex. There was always going to be days like this [loss to Manchester City]. It was always going to be tough following such a great manager with a great team and I think people with real football knowledge will know there are probably some changes to be made.
'It is not going to be made in one fell swoop. It is going to be done in time. That is why the Manchester United board realised the job that needed to be done was a long-term one. I thought I was [prepared] but obviously when you come here then I realise maybe it wasn't. It is a club on its own. It is a fantastic place to work with great players.
'But we have to do well enough to make sure people on the outside think the work we are doing is the right stuff.'
Frustrated United fans have already taken to Twitter in an attempt to trend a #Moyesout, however, should Moyes mastermind a victory this evening over Liverpool, the beginning of his career as Red Devils boss will actually have been the best since Matt Busby. Even Ferguson lost his first local derby... and it was by a worse margin than Moyes' as Sir Alex suffered a 5-1 loss.
A rocky transition and patience among the United brass was expected, which is why Moyes is only 25/1 to follow di Canio.
|Chris Hughton||Norwich City||3/1|
|Alan Pardew||Newcastle United||4/1|
|Ian Holloway||Crystal Palace||8/1|
|Steve Clarke||West Bromwich Albion||16/1|
|Sam Allardyce||West Ham United||16/1|
|Malky Mackay||Cardiff City||22/1|
|David Moyes||Manchester United||25/1|
image: © Jason Gulledge