McAllister out - what next for Leeds?
Not exactly great is it, getting the sack a few days before Christmas?
But football is not a sentimental business and Gary McAllister has paid with his job for failing to live up to the huge expectations at Leeds United.
There is a pressure to succeed at the Yorkshire club that doubtless is in part due to the fact that Leeds were playing Champions League football at the start of the Millennium.
Those days are long gone, most fans have come to terms with that, but they still expect better than League One. And having failed to get out of the division last season, promotion is the only aim this time around - and a run of five straight defeats in all competitions has clearly been too much for chairman Ken Bates.
The 77-year-old is hardly known for procrastinating when it comes to big decisions and the trend continues at Elland Road.
January will mark four years at the helm of the Yorkshire club for Bates and he is now looking for his fifth manager (including the month John Carver spent in charge).
Bates watched from the stands on Saturday - interestingly Gus Poyet also attended the game - as Leeds lost 3-1 at MK Dons.
The Yorkshire club had taken a sizeable contingent, many of whom left all concerned in no doubt as to their thoughts on proceedings.
It must have been an extremely difficult few weeks for McAllister, who turns 44 on Christmas Day, but he remained a dignified figure as the pressure mounted.
As a player he won the old Division One title with Leeds and although some supporters have accused him of lacking passion, those close to him will tell you that he felt fiercely passionate about the club and was absolutely determined to suceed as its manager. Just because you don't scream and shout on the touchline does not mean you don't care.
He leaves with a very decent record - Leeds won 25 of the 50 games the club played during his 11 months in charge and reached last season's play-off final. The team had been on the slide after Dennis Wise's decision to up sticks and move to Newcastle but Leeds improved after McAllister arrived and his first few months hinted at an upturn in fortunes.
Leeds started this season as the bookmakers favourites for the title and six straight wins in September hinted at a successful season.
So why did it go wrong?
Several 606 users point to the recent absence of key striker Jermaine Beckford through injury, while others felt that McAllister undermined his squad by talking about the importance of January's transfer window
Many share the opinion of BBC Radio Leeds reporter Adam Pope.
"Defensively Leeds have been appalling in the last five games and the repeat offence has been an inability to defend corners and set-pieces," Pope told me.
"In my opinion it is the players who have cost Gary his job."
Pope points to the performance of players such as Lubomir Michalik and Rui Marques. They have played at the top level but struggled this season in League One, failing to execute even the basics of defending. McAllister himself would not criticise his players in public but the fact he withdrew Michalik at half-time on Saturday speaks volumes.
Pope was caught out by the timing of the dismissal - he expected McAllister to be given a couple more games at least, especially given that the manager had lined up several players to arrive in January.
But, as with the sacking of Paul Ince at Blackburn, the notion of giving a manager the festive period to save his job is becoming increasingly redundant. The thinking now is that if a new manager comes in before Christmas he will at least have a few games in a short period of time to assess his squad before the transfer window opens.
So who will Bates bring in as the new man at the top?
Plenty of names have been linked with the job, though former Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd, former Preston and Derby boss Billy Davies, ex-Leeds and Tottenham assistant coach Gus Poyet and Blackpool boss Simon Grayson appear to be prime names in the frame.
The likes of Joe Royle, Peterborough's Darren Ferguson and Oldham manager John Sheridan have also been mentioned.
Boothroyd was extremely popular with the players at Leeds when he worked under Kevin Blackwell. He left for Watford and took them into the Premier League - at the expense of Leeds - and is currently out of the work after leaving Vicarage Road earlier in the season.
Poyet, assistant to Wise at Leeds, is also looking for a job after he left Tottenham when Juande Ramos was sacked. Poyet has no frontline managerial experience and if Bates is absolutely focused on promotion this season then his appointment must surely represent something of a gamble.
Davies is interesting. As with Boothroyd and Poyet he is out of work. I saw the Preston and Derby teams he managed in action many times and think he would be ideally suited to the situation at Leeds.
Most people would surely agree that United have one of the best squads in the division and he is superb at squeezing the best out of the resources he has. It is why North End reached the play-offs under his stewardship and the reason Derby won promotion to the Premier League.
His teams are organised and efficient but play decent football - a requirement demanded by Leeds supporters. What Davies does not have is the best track record when it comes to his relationship with his chairman. If Bates does give him the job it will certainly make for interesting viewing (preferably from a distance).
Betting on Grayson was suspended by one well-known bookmaker on Monday. Grayson, who started his playing career at Leeds, has taken the Seasiders into the Championship and kept them there during his three years at the club. He is a highly regarded young manager who has clearly done a decent job on a limited budget at Bloomfield Road - though he would face a very different assignment if he was to take charge at Elland Road.
Whoever gets the job hardly inherits a team in bad shape.
Leeds might have lost their last five games but they are still ninth in the table, just five points off the play-off zone.
The noises coming out of Elland Road are that an appointment could even be made before Christmas.
That could mean one family's plans for Thursday being hastily rewritten but then everything must cede to the quest for promotion at Elland Road.