Lancashire suffered a devastating blow when they failed to force a victory in their crucial relegation clash against Middlesex at Old Trafford. Their failure to do so resulted in relegation to Division Two of the County Championship and disappointment for one of the most decorated county clubs in the country.
The Old Trafford hierarchy now need to perform a detailed autopsy on their disastrous season and look to put some detailed plans in place so that they can bounce back immediately in 2015.
So what has gone wrong this season for Lancashire?
Peter Moores' return to the England coaching role meant that Lancashire did not start the season in ideal circumstances. Veteran all-rounder Glenn Chapple took charge of the team for the season but this was hardly an ideal scenario given the fact that he had to concentrate on his own performances.
Lancashire must seriously address their coach issues as I am sure they would prefer a full-time coach who can dedicate 100 percent of his time. If that is the case then 40-year-old Chapple will need to consider retiring if he is to throw his hat in the ring for the vacant position.
Chapple is tantalisingly close to achieving the rare feat of taking 1,000 first-class wickets so his decision to retire would be a difficult one given he only has 25 more wickets to take.
However, Chapple is not getting any younger and the fact that he bowled over 500 overs in the County Championship may well have sent a signal to his body that the time is right to call it a day.
There is no doubt that Chapple led from the front but his lack of experience as a coach, and a clash of priorities, may well have cost the Red Rose their division one status. Whatever happens to Chapple it is imperative that Lancashire keep him at the club as his experience will be vital.
Lancashire will also need to look at their playing staff to see if any changes need to be made. Will they decide to reduce the number of professional players they have and will they place their faith in the youngsters at the club?
They do have some talented under-19 cricketers and Division Two could be the perfect place for them to start their first-class education if Lancashire are willing to give them the time to develop in such circumstances.
The have already signed 23-year-old Nathan Buck from Leicestershire which may signal their decision to go with youth and Kyle Hogg has retired due to injury.
Jos Buttler's arrival from Somerset was seen as a huge boost for the club and squad but he has not been as consistent as he would have liked in his first season but he is viewed as a long-term signing rather than a quick fix. He will also have international commitments.
In what is proving to be a very difficult and complicated market Lancashire must look to acquire an overseas player who can remain with the club for the majority of the season and who is adept at all three formats of the game.
This is easier said than done but is crucial for their season to be a success. Ashwell Prince, I believe, is still unsure what the future holds for him so the club may need to pursue other avenues in the meantime.
Clearly scoring more runs and taking more wickets is of paramount importance. This may sound crude, and fairly obvious, but after relegation it is important to go back to basics and start again. All departments of Lancashire's game need to be addressed as it would be a shame for a club such as them to be languishing in Division Two for very long.
There will be difficult decisions to be made but director of cricket Mike Watkinson is paid handsomely to do just that and I am sure he is willing to do that for the good of the county that he served with great distinction over many years.
Lancashire can take some solace from the fact that they have immediately returned to the top-flight on the previous two occasions they have been relegated – in 2004 and 2012 – and were champions of Division Two last year.
Do you think that Lancashire will bounce straight back from relegation?
It can’t have helped their cause when they gaze across the Pennines to see their great rivals Yorkshire doing so well. To say the Red Rose are jealous of the White Rose may well be going too far but I am sure they are watching on with some admiration.
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