SLUMPED back in his chair, Paul Murray cut a despondent figure in his final interview as Hartlepool United manager.
Murray was speaking to the press after watching his side cave in against non-league Blyth Spartans in the second round of the FA Cup at Victoria Park.
The match was screened live to the nation and so the latest humiliation for Hartlepool was seen far and wide.
In a television interview straight afterwards Murray was scathing of his players, repeating the same words when he spoke to the written press.
The second-half performance was “diabolical” in the words of the honest Cumbrian, with his side lacking “passion, desire and commitment”.
But there wasn’t any hint then that his job was in jeopardy.
Murray told reporters that the Pools squad would be in training at Maiden Castle, in Durham, on Saturday morning to look to right the wrongs of Friday night.
But that training session never happened.
Murray and his assistant Willie Donachie were axed on Saturday morning after just 45 days and seven matches in charge.
Despite bringing in eight new signings – four loan players and four on permanent contracts – the club decided to put a premature end to his mid-season re-building plans.
Presumably they didn’t trust Murray to turn around the team’s fortunes given that there had been no immediate uplift in results since he took over.
And with the January transfer window just around the corner, he wasn’t deemed the right person to bring in the much-needed reinforcements of the right calibre.
That is, of course, provided funds are made available for wages towards new signings.
Murray chose to highlight the character of one of his signings in what proved to be his last media call as Pools boss.
Scott Fenwick, the former Dunston UTS striker, was signed after impressing on trial and Murray said the 24-year-old has the character needed to battle for League Two survival.
Murray said: “We missed the way Scotty goes about things against Blyth.
“He has the best attitude at the club for work rate and work ethic – we missed him soley because of that.”
Sadly, during his tenure in charge too many of Murray’s players lacked that fight, that work rate and spirit needed to keep the manager in his job.
Murray left a good role as first team coach at Oldham Athletic to try to turn around the fortunes of Pools but his first job in management ended less than two months after it had started.
The 38-year-old is a bright, positive and bubbly character and will no doubt find a way back into football quickly enough.
Perhaps he was out of his depth at Pools given it was his first management role but what can’t be denied is that he was let down by the players.
He is not the first Pools manager to suffer that fate.
But the sorry saga certainly doesn’t reflect well on the club’s long-drawn out recruitment policy either.
The hierarchy were confident they had the right team in Murray and Donachie and while nothing is certain in life – especially football – their sackings have highlighted the club got it wrong.
They cannot afford to get the next decision wrong – the biggest in Hartlepool United’s history.
This season has descended into farce and Pools are quickly becoming a laughing stock.
Time is running out and a new manager needs to be in place quickly.