Thirteen years ago, I sat in an Upton Park press conference and watched a bewildered Glenn Roeder fumble with his vocabulary, trying to explain how a West Ham side containing half of the future England team had failed to beat a wretched Bolton.
He didn't have the words, but his eyes betrayed him. The glassy, thousand-yard stare screamed fear and confusion. He was a haunted, cornered animal. There was no way out.
David Moyes had that same stare at Old Trafford on Sunday.
He knows he's trapped. He knows his enemies are closing in, surrounding him, wounding him; mocking him. He knows he needs an urgent exit strategy.
But he's got nothing.
The poor man really has nothing left on the table. Where there should be a master plan for a great escape, there's just an empty scrap of paper.
Liverpool, Olympiakos and even Fulham and Stoke shouted out what no one really wanted to hear at Old Trafford.
A decent, respected, experienced small business owner is just not equipped to run Microsoft.
That's not an attack on Moyes. Different managers excel within different spheres of influence.
Tony Pulis is one of the best at what he does. He's Harvey Keitel's Wolf in Pulp Fiction. He fixes problems and cleans up messes.
Sam Allardyce is a master of no-nonsense mediocrity.
And Moyes is the fussy, micro-managing, book-keeping mini-mart owner.
Everything was in order at Everton, a no-frills enterprise to make the local community proud.
There was never going to be trophies, accolades or regular jaunts into Europe, but he performed his civic duties to the best of his abilities.
And now he's at Microsoft, trying to organise big deals like he's ordering maggi mee from the local vendor.
He arranges line-ups with all the creative flair of a discounted toilet roll display in a shop window.
Moyes is in the right industry, but crippled with the wrong skills set.
He's out of his depth, out of touch with his players, out of ideas and would already be out of a job if he was employed at any other club in the Premier league.
United's admirable loyalty might be a touching nod to the lengthy grace period famously granted Sir Alex Ferguson in his early years, but the comparison is apples and oranges.
Ferguson's early fumbling cost the club some communal pride - they hadn't won a title for years anyway. But there was little financial damage done.
Moyes' muddling will cost the club millions of dollars a week.
Extrapolate the expected losses from failing to qualify for the Champions League or the Europa League and the lost TV and merchandising revenues from those fixtures, and the tills no longer trill such sweet songs.
Interest repayments devote far too much attention among the Glazers.
Their loyalty is always to the bottom line, proven by their sacking of the under-performing Greg Schiano at Tampa Bay.
History and heritage are quaint subjects best left for primary school classes.
Still, their ignorance of local football matters must be blissful for Moyes.
Daniel Levy and Roman Abramovich are not short on critics, but they do not fall for a manager's bluff and bluster when the alarming lack of focus and direction speaks for itself.
And it spoke rather forcefully at Old Trafford.
Moyes failed to make a substitution until the 76th minute. When United were 3-0 down, the beleaguered boss practically invited scorn by swopping Juan Mata for Rio Ferdinand.
And with the possible exceptions of Adnan Januzaj and David de Gea, every United player has regressed this season.
Brendan Rodgers hands his creators the keys to Anfield.
Moyes slips on the handcuffs and asks his artists to do a job for him.
And when they flounder, when they look to the bench for guidance, for support, for a spirited intervention - they see a 35-year-old centre back warming up on the touchline.
This wasn't the adventurous bravery of Bill Gates. This was the mini-mart owner trying to cut corners, to minimise the losses; a penny-pinching act of damage limitation.
This wasn't United under Ferguson. This wasn't Manchester United.
Like his statue outside the stadium, the former manager was certain United were getting a replacement built in his own image.
The abject displays against Olympiakos and Liverpool are making it increasingly clear that the Scotsman made the wrong choice.
Over the course of 26 years, Ferguson has admitted to making errors of judgment at Old Trafford.
But his final mistake at United threatens to be the most damaging of all.
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