Next to the door of the Elland Road Café and Sandwich Bar, opposite the stadium, a picture has been stenciled onto the wall.
It depicts a bespectacled middle-aged man in a tracksuit, with his hands behind his back, looking intently at something. It is, without a doubt, Marcelo Bielsa.
Bielsa was sacked as manager of Leeds United on February 27 last year, but Leeds could never let him go. They could never move forward.
Bielsa stood for something pure, visceral and exciting and everything that followed was muddled and bland.
Under Bielsa, Leeds had the liveliest identity in the Premier League. Now they no longer have any identity, apart from a club that has lost its identity.
Leeds United were relegated from the Premier League after a 4-1 home loss to Tottenham
Leeds collapsed with a groan at Elland Road as the fans turned on the players
Brenden Aaronson collapses on the grass after Leeds have their relegation confirmed
Sam Allardyce was parachuted in but couldn’t save Leeds from falling
They have been a confused mess for a few months now and when they were relegated on Sunday afternoon there was an overwhelming feeling that it had been a long time coming.
Bielsa finally took another job earlier this month when he was named Uruguay coach, but his presence is still everywhere here.
Fans chanted his name again and again in the closing stages that were part tribute and part lament. Perhaps relegation will be the shock the club needs to realize they are back to square one.
If Everton and Leicester City fought to the bitter end to avoid relegation in their respective fixtures, Leeds went down with a whimper.
At the end of their 4-1 loss to Spurs, when a home supporter ran onto the pitch and angrily tried to resist the stewards’ attempts to restrain him, fans used it to send a message to the players . “He showed more fighting than you,” they sang.
In the fifth minute of extra time at the end of the match, Lucas Moura, playing his last game for Spurs, was allowed to run from the halfway line past most of the Leeds squad without facing a challenge . He waltzed into the penalty area as if on an afternoon stroll and pushed the ball past Robles.
Where was the fight? If Leeds’ latest panic date Sam Allardyce was supposed to have brought anything, this was surely it.
But there was very little fight from Leeds and very little quality too. Big Sam had promised a Big Sam Samba if they stayed up but now was not the time to dance.
Angry Leeds fan who invaded the pitch is carried away by stewards and security
Anger over Leeds’ relegation boiled over as fans flooded the pitch in the second half
Leeds won a point from Allardyce’s four games in charge. The desperate bet to name him for the last four games of the season failed miserably.
The reality of this game was that Leeds were outclassed by a Spurs side who had a dreadful season and in particular by Harry Kane, who scored his 29th and 30th league goals of another outstanding individual campaign. There is still speculation that this could have been Kane’s last game for Tottenham. If that turns out to be the case, it was a nice farewell.
Leeds are unlikely to face the same vicious judgment that fell on them when they were last relegated in 2004. They were exiled from the First Division for 16 years until Bielsa brought them back, but even if their prospects are better now, they are still beset by uncertainty.
The American investment firm behind the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers was thought to be ready to buy out current owner Andrea Radrizzani for £450m if Leeds stayed up. Now it’s believed they’ll only be willing to pay around £150million.
It’s a blow for Radrizzani, but the mood against him quickly deteriorated inside the stadium when the relegation was confirmed. ‘Sell the club and run home,’ echoed around the floor. Radrizzani might not mind hanging around too long.
Leeds need a new manager, a new owner, new players and a new direction. Well, they need some direction at least. They haven’t had any since Bielsa left and they’ve paid the price. They need a top-down rebuilding of the club.
Leeds didn’t even start the game well. Instead of roaring out of the blocks, throwing in tackles and projecting the positive energy the home crowd were hoping for, they seemed coy. Weston McKennie gave away the ball carelessly with almost the first pass of the game. They looked sloppy, not sharp.
Spurs were ahead in less than two minutes. Emerson Royal drifted a ball forward with the outside of his right foot and when Pascal Struijk looked on aimlessly, Pedro Porro rushed past him and reached the ball first.
Porro played it inside Son Heung-Min and Son moved it further to the left to where Kane was waiting. Kane didn’t even take a hit, even though he had more than enough time. He just swept the ball past Joel Robles into the corner of the net.
Leeds should have equalized five minutes later. Jack Harrison, one of Leeds’ best players by dwindling numbers, curled a brilliant ball into the heart of the box and Robin Koch, who was unmarked, pounced on it.
He was only six meters away. He had to score. But he timed the header wrong and he dribbled harmlessly. It was not the first time on this Sunday afternoon that Allardyce was about to party and then clutched his head in despair.
Leeds gave their best, but it was hard to escape the conclusion that their best is no longer good enough for this division. When Dejan Kulusevski turned away from Max Wober in midfield, Wober looked like he was walking in treacle. The Leeds defender has the turning circle of a super tanker. All he could do was pull Kulusevski down and take the yellow.
One hundred miles down the M1 to the south, Leicester took the lead against West Ham but it seemed irrelevant. If Leeds had won, it would have been a hammer blow. But it was as if the hope had already been extinguished.
That feeling came true two minutes after the break. Kane kicked the ball over Liam Cooper at the halfway line and swung away from him. He looked up and tried to loop a ball to Porro but it went straight to Struijk.
Struijk tried to control it but somehow he let it roll over his foot and into Porro’s way. Porro took the ball a few steps, then fired his shot over Robles and into the far corner.
Disillusionment has set in quickly among home support now. The mood was starting to get bad. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” sang pockets of Leeds fans. Others turned to the club’s board of directors. “Sack the board, sack the board, sack the board,” they sang.
Leeds recovered one midway through half-time, but by then Leicester had scored again and Everton had taken the lead at Goodison. As if to underline the hopelessness of the situation, Spurs scored a third a minute later when Porro broke away from the defence, Son’s run sent the Leeds defense out of shape and Kane stroked a mere finish in front Robles.
It was left to Moura to administer the knockout blow with his marvelous solo finish, although the goal says as much about Leeds’ shortcomings as it does about their brilliance. It was a great end to a dreadful season for Spurs. Leeds have even been denied that consolation as the Championship beckons the club back into its cold embrace.
Match facts and standings
Leeds (5-2-3): Robles 5; Ayling 5, Kristensen 5, Cooper 4.5, Wober 4.5 (Firpo 60.5), Struijk 4 (Aaronson 59.5); Forshaw 5, Koch 4.5; McKennie 4 (Rutter 60, 5), Rodrigo 5, Harrison 6 (Gnonto 88).
Unused subtitles: Meslier, Roca, Summerville, Greenwood, Chilokoa-Mullen.
Scorer: Harrison 67
Reserve: Cooper, Wober, Struijk
Director: Sam Allardyce – 5
Tottenham (5-2-3): Forster 6; Porro 7.5 (Moura 90+1), Royal 6.5, Sanchez 7, Lenglet 6, Davies 6; Skipp 6.5 (Abbott 90+1), Bissouma 6.5 (Craig 77, 6); Kulusevski 6.5 (Sarr 67, 6), Kane 8.5, Son 7.5 (Richarlison 76, 6.5).
Unused subtitles: Austin, Danjuma, Tanganga, Alonso.
Scorers: Kane 2, Porro 47, Kane 69, Moura 90+5.
Director: Ryan Mason – 6.5
Arbitrator: Anthony Taylor – 6.5
Man of the match: Harry Kane