Manchester United's season is on the brink of total meltdown after a desperate Champions League reverse which only backed up Roy Keane's forceful attack.
Milenko Acimovic's 37thminute winner for Lille in northern France did not just leave United's European aspirations hanging by a thread, it also raised serious doubts over Sir Alex Ferguson's motivational qualities.
Even six months ago, the prospect of the Scot not being allowed to choose the time of his own departure from a club he has served so royally, would have been dismissed without a thought.
The likelihood of owner Malcolm Glazer sacking him is still highly unlikely but with every shambolic performance, the prospect is gaining weight.
The full extent of Keane's thoughts after Saturday's loss to Middlesbrough, given to inhouse TV station MUTV but then blocked by club officials, will probably never be known but there were at least five members of Ferguson's injury-ravaged starting lineup last night who would have felt the wrath of the Irishman's tongue.
Five thousand visiting fans made their feelings plain, bellowing Keane's name throughout the opening minutes and then, tellingly at the end, in support of their captain.
For 38 minutes they at least were able to cheer on a semblance of a team. It was solid, rather than spectacular, with Kieran Richardson looking good in central midfield and Wes Brown's introduction at centre-half at least bringing some beef to United's defence.
Yet Lille were the more convincing attacking force, so when United's world began to cave in seven minutes from the break, it was not that much of a surprise.
The irony came in the knowledge that Wayne Rooney, one man totally exempt from criticism, should be the man who gifted the home side their chance.
A woeful pass rolled beyond John O'Shea and set Gregory Tafforeau running free down the left. The Lille skipper's cross was perfect for Acimovic, whose first touch took him between Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre and gave him just enough time to blast the French side's first goal of this Champions League campaign and further deepen United's gloom. n Arsenal captain Thierry Henry believed the Gunners were fortunate to beat Sparta Prague 3-0 and reach the last
16. Henry opened the scoring before being replaced by Robin van Persie, who netted twice in the last nine minutes to make the result safe.
But the Frenchman said: "The result is a bit harsh for Sparta because they had two or three great chances but they didn't take them."