Less than 48 hours before his sacking as Hearts manager, Craig Levein was asked in a Sunday newspaper press conference whether he ever felt cursed in his job.
Under the circumstances, he could have been forgiven for having lost his sense of humour.
Instead, the now ex-Jam Tarts gaffer’s wit remained as dry as ever.
“I don’t believe in that,” he offered, a wry smile on his face.
“I keep saying to myself, ‘We’re going to get some unbelievable luck soon’.”
A brief pause followed, before he delivered the kicker: “Maybe I’ll win the lottery tonight.”
No such luck.
Instead, Levein took his side to St Johnstone the following night, where a 1-0 defeat spelled the end of his tenure at Tynecastle.
It’s doubtful, given the furious fan reaction to that loss, whether he would have seen the funny side to anything in its aftermath.
It’s possible, however, that he may have ditched his scepticism about curses.
Hearts have claimed just one win in the Premiership this season – and just two in a run of league games stretching back to March 30.
However you try to spin it, that’s abysmal.
Yes, they have endured dreadful injury problems for over a year.
Yes, those injuries have struck key players in every area of the park.
Yes, the atmosphere at Tynecastle turned poisonous long ago.
But after seven months of below-par performances, reasons have a strange habit of starting to sound like excuses.
The bottom line is that Hearts fans wanted their manager to go.
They had done for weeks – if not months – before the axe finally fell, and they hadn’t been shy about it.
How neither Levein nor owner Ann Budge succumbed to the pressure sooner is, on one hand, admirable.
On the other, it’s utterly absurd.
The press box at Tynecastle is a favourite of Scottish football hacks for many reasons, but chief among them is its location.
Poised just above the dugouts, journalists are close enough to the action to feel part of it.
When the going is good, sitting there is exhilarating.
Recently, however, press box occupants had cringed their way through the climax of multiple games where furious home punters called clearly and, more often than not, obscenely, for Levein to either quit or be sacked.
Nobody in the vicinity – Levein and Budge among them – could have possibly failed to hear.
Having arguably kept faith with her manager for too long, Budge has finally granted Hearts fans their wish.
They head to Hampden today without a clue what to expect from their side under Austin MacPhee’s interim stewardship.
However, what they expect in the longer term is improvement – and of the significant kind.
Implementing it – and doing so quickly – will be a task for whoever takes charge.
They will have at their disposal a squad of players Levein repeatedly described as the best he had had over two spells as Hearts manager. A fresh start might do them good.
All the while, though, Levein will be in the background, seeing out his contract, a bizarre finale to the irreconcilable role of manager/director of football.
But since we started off talking about curses, why not finish with an omen?
Before Levein, Jackie McNamara, then of Dundee United, was the last manager to lose his job after a defeat to St Johnstone.
Just as with Hearts, a fresh start was what the Tangerines wanted.
Instead, they ended up getting relegated.
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