The final chants from a furious away end at Craven Cottage were cutting.
“Steven Gerrard, get out of our club,” the Aston Villa fans sang.
The manner of the 3-0 defeat by Fulham was the final straw, even for many of the most ardent and supportive followers.
Villa sit just three points off the bottom of the Premier League table after 11 games and Gerrard’s time as Aston Villa manager is over.
Gerrard was already on thin ice but there was no way back after that and some 20 minutes after the final whistle, he was gone.
“Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that Head Coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect,” said Villa’s statement. A club spokesman added: “We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment di lui and wish him well for the future.”
It unraveled so quickly that Gerrard traveled back to the Midlands on the bus with the players and staff before he was expected to say his final farewells at the training ground.
The hierarchy had been supportive of him until Thursday night. They all went into the Fulham game wanting their head coach to find a way to start winning again. There was even a sense of encouragement from the impressive display in the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at the weekend.
But picking up one point from matches against the three promoted sides – Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest and now Fulham – left the club in a mess. Villa are in a relegation battle now and owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, along with CEO Christian Purslow, have decided Gerrard is not the man to get them out of trouble.
Wolves’ and Bournemouth’s managerial searches have been protracted but Villa have four Premier League matches and an EFL Cup tie against Manchester United before the six-week break for the World Cup, and they will want to act quickly.
Villa face Brentford on Sunday and Thomas Frank, the manager who took the west London club to the Premier League and kept them there in such impressive fashion, is admired by the Villa board and will be considered as part of the search. However, Brentford are confident Frank will not leave for Villa and will be in charge of Brentford on Sunday.
Whoever comes in will fancy his chances of getting Villa going, for sure, but the concern is that a relegation battle lies ahead.
They reverted to type at Craven Cottage. They were toothless in attack, short on ideas in build-up play and unable to find a winning formula.
It was not entirely Gerrard’s fault Villa are under-performing but he has had 39 games to find a way to fire the team up the division and he’s failed to deliver.
“I’ll not quit,” he said in his short post-match press conference, stressing he was determined to fight on if given the opportunity. But everything about this display – from his team’s performance to his demeanor di lui afterwards – suggested his position di lui had become untenable.
You have to walk across the pitch to get from the dugout to the dressing room at Craven Cottage, and watching him trudge across the turf with his head down after the final whistle as abuse was fired in his direction from the stands was miserable.
He cut a broken figure; a Premier League legend as a player who has struggled to get a team going through his leadership off it.
Puffing out his cheeks, he momentarily looked across at the away end who continued to shout “get out of our club” before heading into the tunnel with a despondent look.
The bright new era under Gerrard that Villa owners NSWE and Purslow were so convinced would follow has now failed and they will be left to pick up the pieces.
The way Villa unfolded in the second half of this game in particular was a shambles.
Douglas Luiz, the midfielder who Villa pushed so hard to sign a new contract last week, let his side down by getting caught up in a battle he didn’t even need to fight. He was sent off for a headbutt on Aleksandar Mitrovic with the score at 1-0.
A penalty was conceded minutes later as a shot crashed off Matty Cash’s arm. It was harsh and Emi Martinez was unfortunate not to keep out Mitrovic’s spot kick, but it was nothing less than Fulham deserved.
Villa were bullied at set pieces, with Fulham winning so many first-contact headers from both corners and attacking free kicks.
They were cut open at times by a 34-year-old Willian who showed a fellow countryman sitting on the Villa bench how it should be done with purposeful, positive play.
Had Mitrovic found his shooting boots, the winning margin would have been even greater.
Villa offered next to nothing in attack and made basic error after basic error.
Jan Bednarek was slow out of the box for the opening goal scored by Harrison Reed. It was only his second goal by him in four seasons at Fulham.
Leon Bailey failed to control a diagonal ball in the first half and also blazed an effort so high and wide that it nearly went over the stand. Jacob Ramsey ran the ball out of play. John McGinn misplaced pass after pass.
For weeks now Gerrard has been shouldering the blame and rightly so, but his players have certainly not helped.
Both as individuals and as a collective, they have not been good enough.
(Top photo: John Walton / PA Images via Getty Images)