Comment: MK Dons defeat made Alan Knill's Scunthorpe United exit inevitable
The temperature was cold as Scunthorpe United fell to fifth defeat in seven matches.
The reaction from supporters was bitter.
Bitter about the way their over-achieving club has been allowed to sink to the League One doldrums.
Bitter that aside from a couple of murals inside the tunnel and at the entrance to the directors' box, Glanford Park bears little resemblance to 30 months ago, when the Iron entertained and excited all who came to watch, be that in victory or defeat.
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Such memories inspire not only fans of Scunthorpe United, but those of the Football League's other self-titled small clubs, desperate to dine at the same table as heavyweights of the past.
They also though, weigh heavy.
These are difficult times for the Iron, working under tighter financial constraints than the previous managers have been afforded.
That was not though the reason why after 18 difficult months as manager, Alan Knill's reign came to a sorry end early yesterday morning.
Monday's decision to relieve the 48-year-old of his duties no doubt made for a strange day at Glanford Park.
For all the talk of football being a results business, a change at the top is not an everyday occurrence at Scunthorpe United.
The so-called Iron hot seat is lukewarm, one of the safest positions in the Football League.
The fact chairman Steve Wharton kept faith with Knill for so long was admirable, even if potentially detrimental to the bigger picture.
"Perhaps we maybe did hang on longer than we should have done, but I wanted Alan to succeed," he explained in a press conference hours after the axe had fallen.
"I would always rather somebody succeeded than failed."
On Saturday, at the end of one of the most-hostile Saturday afternoons seen at Glanford Park, change was inevitable.
Defeat to the Dons, 3-0, in front of their own fans, was woeful.
The performance lacked character and confidence and those who have continued to pay good money, while others stayed away, made their feelings clear.
Losing 2,000 fans in two seasons is bad enough – although always likely when the going got as tough as it had become – but when those that do turn up speak in unison, with such vitriol, Knill's position became untenable.
He knew it, too.
Although Knill made it clear during his post-match press conference he would not resign from his role at Glanford Park, ironically, there was an air of resignation about the Iron's boss.
While always polite, there was a pric kliness about Knill if he took criticism of the team's performance personally.
On Saturday, even that had gone.
"It doesn't look healthy, the table, but I can't do anything other than keep working and hopefully, with the players, which we know are all on side, it will turn around," he told me.
'Hope' was not a tactic Wharton was prepared to put such faith in
Uncomfortable in front the cameras, Knill craved for his side to do their talking on the pitch. Too often though they stuttered.
When he took over he promised free-flowing 'exciting' football - "at Bury I enjoyed watching my team play, that's a big thing for me. If I enjoy it, I'm hopeful others will," he said after being unveiled by the Iron.
While still a work in progress, evidence of such excitement has been shortcoming. Never more so than during a hopeless final few weeks.
Even as recently as a month ago, the United manager promised his side had genuine potential to be much better than last season - another campaign of struggle and gloomy Glanford Park results.
But potential is nothing if not realised and so far this term, even in victory, the Iron have been laboured and unconvincing.
Heads drop too easily. The ability to win has been replaced by nervousness and a tendancy to make mistakes, the same ones. Costly ones to boot.
There was genuine belief, after a couple of crucial forays into the transfer market, that a promising end to the previous season had set Scunthorpe up to be the side that Knill desperately craved.
His stock though plummeted in May when he made big decisions on playing personnel, none bigger than letting Iron stalwart Cliff Byrne leave on a free transfer.
Had his side produced on the pitch, the angst at that PR disaster would have subsided. The clear lack of leadership in games instead has only heightened the anger at Byrne's absence.
For what it's worth I feel for Knill. He took on a difficult job at an even tougher time.
As Wharton touched on in his press conference, you could not fault his work ethic - he put more hours in than any of his predecessors, often arriving for work at 7am.
He was devoted to the job, but never really won over the fans, be it through his lack of tenacity on the touchline or his persistence to stick with a style of football his squad were unable to fully adapt to.
What he wanted Scunthorpe to be was an exciting, attacking unit, packed with pace and passing prowess. To the day of his departure, such heights remain unscaled.
Injuries were undoubtedly a blow. Aside from a handful of games when United were at their most promising after Christmas, he never got the chance to really build the team he wanted, around midfielder Damien Mozika.
But the beginning of the end, for me, came in the build to the clash with Brentford three weeks ago, when Knill cited expectation as one of the biggest difficulties of being in charge of the Iron.
"The expectation level is so high, people expect us to be in the Championship," he said.
"We're not living up to everybody's expectations of where this club should be, whether or not that's realistic is another thing."
Such comments did little to build a bond between the dugout and the terrace.
Few Iron fans expect their side to be in the Championship, though admittedly would have liked their side to have done more to try to stay there when they twice sampled the experience.
Even fewer though expected to be lured into League One's bottom four, especially this season, when Knill had put his own stamp on the squad at his disposal.
His budget hugely restricted the players he could recruit. Numerous first and second choices for almost every position he sought to strengthen moved elsewhere.
But there is enough quality currently in the dressing room to achieve better results than those United have managed this season.
For those failings, somebody had to pay the price.
The fact it was Knill was almost as inevitable as his future at the end of the MK Dons debacle.
But he should be wished well.