The sudden departure of Michael Laudrup from the helm at the Liberty Stadium after only 18 months in charge is probably sending shock waves around the Premier League, since it would seem that now no-one is safe from the chairman's axe. Yes, Swansea have not been enjoying the best of form recently, but that could go for any of the bottom half of the Premier League who are separated by only a handful of points. And now for one of the league's bright coaching lights, guiding his team to League Cup honours less than a year ago and with a tasty looking Europa Cup tie with Napoli just around the corner, to suddenly be cast on the managerial scrapheap seems knee-jerkingly premature, bordering on the ludicrously irresponsible.
Of the bottom nine clubs, six have now parted company with their managers since the start of the season, with Rene Meulensteen probably avoiding being a seventh casualty only because Fulham are too embarrassed to sack two managers in the space of two months for not making a silk purse from a pig's ear. Dimitar Berbatov couldn't desert the sinking ship for the French Riviera quick enough, and who could really blame him?
Of the three managers in that bottom nine still in a job, probably only Steve Bruce can feel secure. Big Sam has been staring down the barrel since before Christmas, while Chris Hughton was reportedly only one timely win away from the chop just a few weeks ago. Chairmen's memories seem to be getting shorter, while their demands for instant success grow beyond the scope of patience and loyalty and common decency.
But what of the teams at the top? Poor old AVB didn't survive his first slump, if heavy defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool sandwiching a 5-game run of 4 wins and a draw can be called a slump. Every other team in the top half seems to be meeting or exceeding expectations - with the one glaring exception of course.
What, oh what is the Mata at Old Trafford??!! (did you see what I did there?). If this had been anything other then David Moyes' first season in charge, he would undoubtedly be long gone by now. He can only play the "transitional period" card for so long, although to be fair he has always spoken with refreshing honesty and hasn't made excuses for his players' deficiencies on the pitch. Of course it doesn't help that every time he looks up in the stand, he sees Sir Alex looking back at him like Banquo's ghost, his nemesis for years, and now haunting his misfortune game by tortuous game - a bit like having your dad turn up at work every day, tutting and shaking his head as you struggle over a spreadsheet and break the photocopier.
And he is now under real pressure, not only to make that coveted 4th Champions League spot, but indeed to reach Europe at all. With Liverpool, Everton and Spurs all vying for 4th as well and showing now signs of their form diminishing, the chances are that one of them could just as easily claim 5th place too, leaving Moyes' boys stranded and putting their passports away for a year. Indeed, with no hopes of domestic cup honours either, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that United's best hope of reaching Europe next year is to win the Champion League itself this season (no pressure, David).
The ramifications of United failing to reach Europe would go way beyond the immediate embarrassment and the sudden loss of expected Champions League revenue. The knock on effect would be a failure to attract the best players for next season, as well as a potential exodus of current topline players anxious to play on the biggest European stage, and not patient enough to take a year's sabbatical.
Empires rise and empires fall, and maybe, just maybe, there are just a few signs of crumbling dust in the Old Trafford brickwork.