Everton owner Farhad Moshiri took the biggest gamble of his turbulent time in charge when he appointed Rafael Benitez as manager in succession to Carlo Ancelotti - and failed.
Moshiri, whose record since arriving at the club in 2016 shows he can be both impulsive and reactive, was aware of the many sub-plots and potential pitfalls surrounding the notion of bringing the former Liverpool manager to Goodison Park.
It was the most controversial managerial appointment in Everton's history and turned out to be one of the shortest with Benitez sacked after only his 19th league game, an embarrassing 2-1 loss at struggling Norwich City.
Benitez was a Reds icon after winning the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005, when his side came from 3-0 down at half-time to win on penalties. But there was much more to it than that.
The Spaniard was despised by large numbers of Everton supporters after an ill-judged remark, which he claimed was lost in translation, describing them as a "small club" following a goalless Merseyside derby at Anfield in 2007.
It was a hurdle many Everton fans simply could not get over with the 61-year-old. But Moshiri pressed on because he believed Benitez's ruthless streak and tactical acumen would bring stability and success following the dysfunction and churn that had seen Roberto Martinez, Ronaldo Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva sacked before Ancelotti's shock return to Real Madrid.
The backdrop also meant Benitez needed to make a fast start to at least make the doubters think he might be a success - which he did.
The new Everton manager's steely approach and conviction that he could convince dissenters, which he also had when he was greeted with disapproval at Chelsea before going on to win the Europa League in 2013, led him to believe he could cope with any level of disapproval.Rafael Benitez's last interview as Everton boss
At first he did. Then he could not.
Benitez received a warm reception before his first game at home to Southampton, and victories against the Saints, Brighton and Burnley plus a creditable draw at Manchester United - as well as his two bargain signings Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray excelling - gave him a cushion against premature criticism.
Sadly for Benitez, after the home loss to West Ham United on 17 October, a terminal rot set in and Saturday's embarrassing defeat at Norwich City, already regarded as certainties for relegation, was the final straw. That result made it only six points out of the last 39 in an appalling sequence.
Benitez was always going to be one bad defeat away from a major crisis and the turning of a potentially toxic atmosphere at Goodison Park. The real trouble and dissent boiled over when those losses came in brutal succession.
Everton collapsed in a 5-2 home defeat to Watford after leading 2-1 with 12 minutes left. They succumbed at Brentford, were thrashed at home by Liverpool, then lost limply at Crystal Palace even before the defining defeat at Carrow Road.
The 2-1 win at home to Arsenal in early December was a false dawn, the exception to Benitez's rule.
Benitez can justifiably point to key injuries that ruled England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin out for three months, as well as the loss of a vital spine of the team in Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Richarlison for long periods.
In the background, things unravelled as an uneasy relationship with director of football Marcel Brands ended with the Dutchman walking away after being abused by fans at the end of the 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool on 1 December.
The instinct of owner Moshiri was to back Benitez until he could back him no more, even when he fell out with France defender Lucas Digne and sold him to Aston Villa for £25m, the transfer cash being invested in Dynamo Kyiv defender Vitalii Mykolenko and Rangers teenager Nathan Patterson.
In the final reckoning, Benitez's past could only be overcome by a succession of victories that were, in reality, an unrealistic prospect, and such a bad run was always going to pull the rug from under him.
The discontent that has been seen at several matches this season boiled over at Carrow Road, with protest banners, Everton supporters trying to approach the dug-out and players being abused at the final whistle.
There was no coming back from that, and no boardroom support Benitez could call on with fans in open mutiny.
It was, ultimately, a battle Moshiri and Benitez could not win.
So where next?
This is the big question, and Everton's recent history - or more to the point Moshiri's - make prediction a hazardous occupation.
BBC Sport understands there is still heavy support and admiration in Everton's boardroom for Belgium coach Roberto Martinez - which in many respects drives at the heart of the club's dysfunctionality.
Martinez was Moshiri's first managerial victim in 2016, driven out by fan unrest and a regime of diminishing returns after three seasons, despite taking Everton to fifth place in his first campaign after succeeding David Moyes. How would the volatile billionaire feel about ending up back at square one with the man he sacked in his first serious intervention as owner?
The Catalan has always had a sense of unfinished business at Everton, but would he leave Belgium in a World Cup year, and would Moshiri risk another hard sell to fans after the Benitez debacle?Could Wayne Rooney be a realistic option as Everton's next manager@
What about Wayne Rooney?
He would be another huge gamble, but Rooney has done superbly in trying circumstances at Derby County, and the prospect of the one-time Everton boy wonder, who returned to the club from Manchester United in 2017, standing alongside Duncan Ferguson in the dug-out may stir the romance in chairman Bill Kenwright.
It would, though, represent a massive punt on a rookie manager who is untried at Premier League level, someone with only Championship experience.
Moshiri gambled big time on Benitez and lost.
That makes predicting his next move doubly difficult. But he finally needs to actually get a big decision right, because one look at the Premier League table shows Everton are in an increasingly perilous position.