Since 1998, 10 managers have taken charge of the Easter Road club, and only three of them left for jobs at other teams. The rest departed, often abruptly, because of a degree of discontent. Sometimes it was in the dressing room, sometimes in the stands, sometimes in the boardroom, but it is justified to conclude that for a club of Hibs' size and resources, this has been a period of under-achievement.
Fenlon appeared unable to take emotional control of the club. He led Hibs to two consecutive Scottish Cup finals and, as he pointed out at the press conference to announce his departure, his team also went unbeaten against Hearts last season. Yet the supporters were increasingly disgruntled and there has been a grim, almost fretful air around the place. Fenlon could not establish a positive mood at Easter Road, despite working hard to rebuild the team and introduce new scouting, youth and training initiatives.
Events often seemed bleak around Fenlon, even when they were not, and Hibs appear stuck in a rut of mediocrity. It was the final indignity for many of the supporters to see a youthful, inexperienced Hearts side beat his team in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final at Easter Road last week. Many protested outside afterwards.
Without directly putting him forward, Fenlon spoke enthusiastically of the merits of his assistant, Jimmy Nicholl. Certainly, the former Raith Rovers manager, and No 2 to Jimmy Calderwood at Dunfermline and Aberdeen, as well as Kenny Shiels at Kilmarnock, has the experience and the character traits to revive at least some optimism around Easter Road. He is well-liked by the players, but has been out of the frontline of management for some time.
There are other potential appointments, including Terry Butcher, Shiels, Peter Grant, Alex McLeish, Ian Murray and Calderwood. They all have their merits, and the professional circumstances of some make them more likely than others, but Fenlon was adamant Nicholl would be a good choice to succeed him, although the Irishman will have no input into the decision.
"I spoke to Jimmy before training on Friday and he tried to talk me out of it," Fenlon said. "He was disappointed with my decision but, after a chat, we took training as normal. Preparing properly to get three points at Motherwell was the most important thing. Jimmy will take the team, he is another person that I've brought into the club who has been tremendous. He's been a revelation, a real bright spark around the place.
"I don't need to sit here and big him up for any job. It's up to him to say whether he would be interested in the position, but he has done a great job for me since I brought him into the club. His knowledge of the game is fantastic and since he's been here he has been a real influence on me and the players."
Fenlon brought the majority of the current squad to Easter Road, and most of the players were disappointed to see him leave. At times, it looked as though they were making progress under the Irishman, but there always seemed to be a setback lying in wait to steer them back to the gloom. Ben Williams, the former Manchester United trainee goalkeeper, was one of the players Fenlon signed, and he admitted that the 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts two years ago was almost impossible for Fenlon to recover from.
"I can understand where the fans are coming from because there are still a lot of raw feelings from that cup final against Hearts," Williams said. "A lot of people still haven't got over that, but football has got to move on. In the time that he has been here he has taken Hibs from being a close-to-relegation side to two cup finals, and we are an improving side. The manager has brought the club on a massive amount so the news is obviously hard for a lot of the boys to take in."