Axed Melbourne Victory coach Marco Kurz knew he was on borrowed time after being told over three weeks ago that, in coaching parlance, he was a dead man walking.
The combustible German learned in the lead up to the pre-Christmas derby against Melbourne City that failure to land three points would be terminal to his tenure, with the board ready to pull the trigger after an indifferent start to the season.
A narrow 2-1 win only delayed the inevitable with Kurz going so far as to bid farewell to several football figures prior to kick-off.
A 4-0 stroll two weeks later against a moribund Newcastle Jets papered over the cracks further.
But the emerging consensus within the board that Kurz’s old school methods were out of kilter with direction the directors wanted for the club persisted.
Sunday’s controversial last-gasp 3-2 loss to Central Coast, in which Kurz was red-carded for abusing the fourth official provided confirmation, in the eyes of the club, that to persist with the former Adelaide United coach would be futile.
They had seen enough in the 50-year-old’s 13 games in charge to suggest his appointment was a miscalculation and that to prevaricate any longer would be pointless.
With his departure comes a squad shake up that will see exciting winger Marco Rojas return to the fold from Denmark this week and assistant coach Carlo Salvachua installed until the end of the season.
Beyond that, Kurz’s exit will likely spark a change of approach in sourcing a long-term successor, with the board likely to look favourably on emerging local talent.
Having nurtured Kurz’s predecessor Kevin Muscat over many years, the likes of another Australian kingpin-in-the-making, Wellington’s Ufuk Talay, will be on their watch list.
Several wise judges rate the former Young Socceroos and Sydney FC assistant as Australia’s most gifted coaching prospect, with the effervescence of Phoenix’s football this season providing a glowing reference of both his leadership skills and recruitment nous.
Another Australian on the radar will be former Victory chief Ange Postecoglou’s current apprentice Arthur Papas, who has proved his acumen alongside Postecoglou as part of Yokohama F. Marinos’ title-winning coaching collective over the past year.
Kurz’s departure may signal the beginning of the end of A-League clubs recruiting mid-tier foreign coaches, and instead looking closer to home.
It will also bring into even sharper focus the future of Kurz’s compatriot Markus Babbel at Western Sydney Wanderers where he has presided over seven defeats in nine games.
And after a season-and-a-half of under-achievement, he looks as secure as a man standing on the edge of an avalanche.
Kurz’s successor at Adelaide - Dutchman Gertjan Verbeek - may also be looking over his shoulder after a bright start, which included FFA Cup glory - giving way to a sense of malaise.
The Reds have dropped out of the top six after four successive defeats and need to find an antidote to reboot their season before it’s too late.
As for Kurz, he packs for home after four wins, three draws and six losses – a new Victory record for the most defeats after 13 games of a campaign.
In fairness, significant injury issues over his short tenure to the likes of Tim Hoogland, Socceroos Andrew Nabbout and Robbie Kruse and captain Ola Toivonen didn’t help.
But there could ultimately be no hiding behind the smokescreen.
And while his abrupt denouement may have surprised many, it was anything but a bombshell to the man himself.