IT is a quote that immediately passed into football folklore.
Keith Burkinshaw, shortly after stepping down as Tottenham Hotspur manager, turned towards White Hart Lane and said pointedly: “There used to be a football club over there.”
After a head-spinning week at Elland Road that last night culminated in Brian McDermott being sacked, Leeds United fans must be able to empathise with the sentiment first expressed by the Barnsley-born former Spurs manager almost three decades ago.
Certainly, football has seemed to be of secondary importance in LS11 in what, even by United’s standards, has been a truly crazy few days.
First, former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa – a confidant of new owner-in-waiting Massimo Cellino – had a request rejected to sit in the United dugout during Tuesday night’s Championship meeting with Ipswich Town.
Then, Sport Capital, the David Haigh-led consortium that for so long had been confident of clinching a deal to purchase a 75 per cent stake, suddenly withdrew from the race to take charge at Elland Road.
That left Cellino, the controversial owner of Serie A side Cagliari, and a British-based consortium including Adam Pearson and former Sunderland marketing chief Mike Farnan in a straight two-way scrap to buy the club.
Finally, as the clock ticked towards the closing of the transfer window and less than an hour after captain Ross McCormack had reaffirmed his commitment to the club in a show of support for his manager, McDermott was dismissed.
It was a decision that left supporters bewildered and, as the evening wore on, growing increasingly angry at the shoddy treatment meted out to McDermott.
Earlier in the day, the then Leeds manager had fronted up to the media at Thorp Arch when he must surely have wanted to do anything else but this.
By rights, it should have been owners, Gulf Finance House, sticking their heads above the parapet at the end of a week when the patience of supporters had been tested to the limit by the total lack of clarity at the top of the club.
Some managers would have ducked out, knowing that the line of questioning was likely to focus on the ownership saga. McDermott, though, told the waiting press that he had never even considered doing so. That said a lot about McDermott as a man.
Eight or so hours later, that same principled and decent man had become the third manager to be sacked by Leeds in exactly two years.
What now for Leeds United? Well, the obvious answer is ‘Huddersfield Town at home’. But just how that derby is going to play out is anyone’s guess.
Certainly, the mood on twitter and internet messageboards was bordering on mutinous last night.
Whether that is reflected in the stands at Elland Road remains to be seen, but when even Gary Neville, hardly a fan of Leeds from his playing days, comes out in support – he tweeted last night: “I don’t like Leeds United / they don’t like me! (that’s life) However they are being tossed about by imposters! None of us like that!!” – then it is clear no one is going to forget January 31, 2014, in a hurry.