There's been anguish at every turn in the 2015-16 season for Evertonians. Bright promise unfulfilled, thrilling matches lost, semi-finals tossed away and, eventually, total apathy gripping so many associated with the football club.
It couldn't have ended in any outcome other than the dismissal of Roberto Martinez, confirmed on Thursday. The post-mortem examining his decline over three campaigns and the timing of his departure will be grizzly procedure.
But now, for the future; it begins here in earnest for Everton. There will most likely be a huge turnaround in playing staff, new faces in the boardroom and a lot of money spent. Now we know there'll be a new face in the dugout too.
At the moment it feels like standing on the high board not knowing quite how deep the water is below. It'll be a gripping ride, but it's difficult not to be worried about what's coming. After all, Farhad Moshiri probably hasn't had time to decorate his office at Goodison Park yet and the man himself has yet to make his intentions clear.
At the moment, given the uncertainty and the manner in which this team, talked of in such glowing terms by so many, capitulated late in the campaign, it's tough to shake off a sense of caution. But much will hinge on how bold Everton are when it comes to appointing Martinez's successor.
The club has gradually immersed itself in a malaise over the past 12 months. The string of setbacks aforementioned has worn down a fanbase already frustrated from a campaign that's descended into farce. In an ideal world matchgoing fans are unbending and unrelenting in their backing. But angst is understandable, as it's been demoralising to watch.
Everton need someone to hoist the club, as a collective, up off its haunches. Someone who can motivate a squad of players who have threatened to burst into life at times during the previous regime. Someone who can enliven a fanbase that's been dulled by the multitude of galling moments in recent years.
Men like that are few and far between in football, but they are out there. Figures like Diego Simeone, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho have done it; Everton, as tough as it may be to find, need someone cut from a similar cloth.
At first glance, coaches of such calibre may not be too keen to take on a club which has suffered two consecutive bottom half finishes, players who have downed tools on the predecessor and a fanbase which is at best disillusioned, at worst toxic.
But there's a project to sell at Everton, the nine-time champions of England and five-time FA Cup winner, lest we forget.
By the very fact of being in the Premier League, any new man will be testing himself against the very best in his field. A coach with ambitions of going far in the game should be invigorated by the prospect of going up against men like Klopp, Pochettino, Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Arsene Wenger.
Martinez has also left Everton a very talented squad of footballers. Perhaps not a group as good as the 1980s select, nor as poor as the mid 1990s. But they're a crop with ability; perhaps unmotivated, undisciplined and unfit at the moment, but for a capable manager, they're malleable attributes.
There are a few gems in there too. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones all have their flaws and have abandoned the sinking ship like so many in blue. But they're not "frauds," as so many would claim; they're potentially fine players at their best and make up a core that was, and still should be, worth getting excited about with the right man in charge.
And the fanbase, as stifled as they may have been lately, can be a massive asset too. In social media tiffs, a lot of supporters have been accused of accepting their lot during these testing times. But the frustration at Goodison has stemmed from a rapid deterioration in standards; we all want a dose of ambition and subsequent success.
Martinez teased those traits in his memorable first season, throwing himself into the club's decorated history and encouraging the players to puff their chests out. The fans bought into it. Everton need that kind of attitude from their next leader, complemented with a more rounded managerial skillset.
That could be Ronald Koeman, Frank de Boer or even Mourinho, figures with clout and a proven winning mentality. But it's so important the Toffees aim high. On the cusp of a new chapter in the club's history, they must approach the best man for the job, sell him a blueprint and offer a lucrative contract which is worth considering.
A conservative approach is the wrong approach to this search. Men like Eddie Howe, Mark Hughes and even David Moyes are all decent managers in their own right, but the club need to lift standards, especially given how appointing a relegated boss has worked out; none would inspire those at the club, fans and players alike, who so evidently need a shot of impetus.
Of course, there are certain fundamentals which a coach needs to manage in the Premier League and there are deep-rooted problems at Everton for which a new manager isn't the antidote; they each must be considered when looking for the next boss.
But quality coaches with the right character for a club can make a lot align very quickly. Everton, by whatever means necessary, must ensure they get a man of that mould.
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