When King Kenny Dalglish abdicated as Liverpool manager in February 1991, a number of distraught supporters desperately contacted police headquarters for reassurance that the rumours were not true; his confirmed exit from Anfield would, according to the Daily Express at the time, "go down as one of the great mysteries of the game".
After a testing season both on and off the pitch, with the Carling Cup providing but a glimmer of optimism in a season otherwise weighed down by rank but expensive underachievement and unseemly tangles over race, a similar sense of outright bewilderment was absent on Wednesday when Liverpool confirmed King Kenny had been toppled for a second time, this time the club's owners playing the role of usurpers.
It still came as a shock, largely due to the godlike status Dalglish enjoys at Anfield. Having been summoned to a summit meeting in Boston on Tuesday then left in the dark as to whether his pitch for how to take the club forward next season had suitably convinced John Henry and his colleagues at Fenway Sports Group, the man who is arguably Liverpool's greatest individual was ushered out of the exit door - a sad end to his tumultuous second reign at Anfield, of course, but not premature.
Dalglish, in a gracious departing statement that demonstrated his laudable subservience to all things Liverpool, was right to highlight his success in bringing a trophy back to a club starved of recent success, but with the FA Cup campaign ending in disappointment at Wembley, a sole Carling Cup was not enough to obscure a dreadful league campaign that ended with a run of 19 points in 18 games; insipid, uninspiring, unimaginative performances had become the norm. Defeats to West Brom, Wigan and Fulham did little to suggest Dalglish was capable of reversing a damaging trend and securing the Champions League football that the owners desire.
For a club with Liverpool's legacy, so much of it forged by Dalglish himself, such a situation was clearly unacceptable. How sad that it should be the club's best ever player and a manager who won three league titles in his first spell who should be the one to so dismally fail to arrest a decline started in the final years of Rafa Benitez and accelerated under Roy Hodgson, whom Dalglish was parachuted in to relieve.
It was equally sad to witness a great club's handling of the case brought against Luis Suarez for the racial abuse he directed at Patrice Evra. Early Doors has covered this matter ad nauseam; suffice to say here that when Dalglish casts his eye back over his second reign at Anfield, he should wince at the sight of himself wearing a t-shirt in deeply misguided support of a man who was found to have referred to a black opponent as "negro" seven times. The intense criticism coming Liverpool's way from anti-racism campaigners, respected football figures and, crucially, the club's own sponsors only confirmed Liverpool's position as untenable, but one Dalglish maintained until almost the bitter end.
Calamitous results and controversies aside, Dalglish clearly felt it was well within his capabilities to restore Liverpool's reputation next season, to oversee an influx of talented new players and get the club climbing back up the table to their natural environment. Henry and his friends in Boston disagreed, and yesterday made Dalglish another victim of the scorched earth policy that has left Liverpool bereft of authority at present. The manager joined director of football Damien Comolli, head of sports medicine Peter Brukner and head of communications Ian Cotton in being handed his P45 in recent weeks.
Having spilt blood all over the boardroom floor, FSG now find themselves presented with a completely fresh slate - a chance to impose their own vision on a club that for too long has been tethered to its past, too keen to cast a glance back instead of moving forward.
FSG bought into this romantic but flawed ideal when, in desperation, they welcomed back Dalglish with open arms in January 2011, but apparently they do so no longer (unless Rafa Benitez gets a phone call of course, and according to some reports that is not beyond the realms of possibility).
From across the pond in Boston, FSG have determined an imminent change in Liverpool's fabric in the most dramatic way possible: by severing the most visible link with the club's past. Having been brave enough to do so, and in the process risk alienating a large number of fans who quite understandably revere Dalglish given his emotional attachment to the club, they must get the next appointment right. They must show that removing Dalglish, and kicking out a legendary figure who united the club after the fractious reign of Hodgson, was the correct move.
It is a tall order for a group of owners who have otherwise failed to provide the strong leadership that many expected would be forthcoming when they chased Tom Hicks and George Gillett out of Merseyside to demonstrate there were a new bunch of sheriffs in town.
Where, for instance, were FSG when the Suarez situation was spiralling out of control? Why has there been no movement on a new stadium? It is all very well attempting to move the club in a new direction by changing the manager, but when fans look across Stanley Park there is still no physical manifestation of a new identity, a future to be excited about. The proposed construction site lays fallow, as do the club's loftier ambitions.
With no new stadium, no manager, no assistant manager, no director of football, no chief executive and no director of communications there can surely be no direction.
This summer could witness the most fundamental change seen for decades at Liverpool - a club that once preached continuity through the ideals of the Boot Room. It could also see a damaging power vacuum develop if the situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency.
Roberto Martinez and Andre Villas-Boas are early front-runners for the post. It is surely no coincidence they are both young, progressive, forward-thinking managers who possess a distinct style. The type of manager befitting an ambitious, invigorated club.
Dalglish instead represented Liverpool's glorious past, but it was just that: the past. In his failure to pull together anything resembling a decent team despite spending vast sums of money, and his clumsy handling of a sensitive issue that cast a long shadow over Liverpool's season, Dalglish demonstrated he is not the manager that FSG seek. Both on and off the pitch he ultimately proved something of a throwback.
Now, having deposed the ageing King, FSG must ensure they find a suitably regal replacement or Liverpool's future will remain as uncertain as their past remains glorious.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Absolutely loved playing for England. To say I am gutted is an understatement of the highest order." - Rio Ferdinand reacts to confirmation that he had been excluded from a 23-man England squad that was a heady mix of the uninspiring and the out-of-form. At least Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provides a bit of excitement.
FOREIGN VIEW: ED could produce a big treatise on one of the major stories from around the continent this morning, but wouldn't you rather see Gonzalo Higuain walk into a door? Thought so.
COMING UP: We begin to turn our attention towards Saturday's Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich and this morning bring you the perspective from Germany through our friends at Eurosport's German HQ in Munich and former Bayern defender Thomas Berthold.
At lunch we will publish a lengthy interview with Petr Cech, while the Armchair Pundit has his say on Chelsea's likely tactics in what is effectively an away game. This evening the Euroscout also runs his eye over Diego Contento, who is likely to start at left-back for Bayern on Saturday, while Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers, a former employee of Chelsea, gives us his perspective.
Our video review of the Premier League season continues and at 7.45pm we have live coverage of the League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Cheltenham and Torquay. Cheltenham lead 2-0 from the first leg.