Sheffield United appear to be approaching a fundamental judgment on the future direction of the club, writes Alan Biggs.
And it is every bit as unwelcome as the crisis enveloping Bramall Lane.
Pressure is inevitably mounting on Micky Adams after 11 games without a win and the team staring relegation in the face.
But there is also pressure on the club to steer clear of yet another change of manager.
And it is not Adams’ team as he wrestles with a sickness that took hold long before his arrival.
That is the melting pot in the run-up to a must-win home game with Derby on Saturday.
Having recently fought off premature speculation that Adams was under threat, United’s board now have to make a key judgment on the way ahead.
Do they take a long term view of the obvious rebuilding operation required under a recently appointed manager? Or decide that drastic action is required in the cause of keeping the club in the Championship?
Logic and fairness still favours the first argument despite a desperate run of form culiminating in the collapse of an early 2-0 lead in Tuesday’s calamitous 3-2 defeat at rivals Scunthorpe. Besides, Adams will feel he can yet answer both requirements, given the one break that could change everything.
He is working largely with the squad he inherited. His luck has been out and given reasonable fortune he would have broken his duck long ago.
United have had four managers this season and a record like that seldom, if ever equates to success. A return to stability is urgently required.
However, a change cannot be ruled out simply because of the sheer importance of avoiding relegation and the financial consequences involved for a club that has been feeling the pinch already. It’s a traumatic time for Adams, in particular, with his dream job having become a nightmare so far.
Apart from the gamble on Marcus Bent, which has backfired to this point, it is hard to level a damning criticism at a manager who is doing his best in hugely difficult circumstances.
But Adams is an honest character who will be more disappointed than anyone at the current predicament and he knows that managers are always vulnerable in such circumstances.
He talked on Tuesday night of “seeing what happens” after conversations with the board - an ominous sign perhaps. Adams’ criticism of players who “don’t know how to win” was absolute; loss of bottle and a performance that couldn’t be defended.
That and his own “embarrassment at my record” seems to suggest more turmoil. But the stand-out statistic remains; four managers in one season and all of them have struggled.
It’s why United are under pressure to find the root cause and correct it rather than throw all the pieces in the air once again.
Either way, a big call beckons.