Leeds United: basket case. Jonathan Woodgate looks odds-on to be a Newcastle player by the end of this week, the latest player to leave a club that has gone from big buyers to panic sellers in 14 months. On the pitch, a miserable league season has at least become a mediocre one, but after reaching Europe regularly and the Champions League once, and leading the Premiership as recently as last January, that's just not enough.
Some fans want the manager out because of the gutless displays and poor signings, but he is suggesting he may walk because of the loss of another one of his stars, and some sympathise with him and focus more, or solely, on the chairman. Peter Ridsdale is now a hunted man in the media and on the terraces. Yet he and the rest of the Leeds board, and perhaps the manager too, have one lifeline.
Sunday's Observer had the quotation to die for, overheard from a conversation between two Leeds fans before their match at Gillingham on Saturday lunchtime. "Last game of the season?" And yet in spite of Mamady Sidibe's equaliser, the Elland Road side remain in the competition and are strong favourites to reach round five. For now their fans have nothing whatsoever to sing about, but as long as they remain in the FA Cup, then in the face of chaos there is always hope.
Defeat at home to Gillingham or indeed a fifth-round catastrophe could spell the end for Terry Venables, assuming he doesn't walk before then. But he, more than most people, will know that a cup run can prove a saviour.
In 1991 it wasn't so much his job as Tottenham manager that was on the line but the survival of the club. Some catastrophic investments that were supposed to put money into the football team were instead dragging it to the brink of bankruptcy. The Midland Bank were threatening to pull the plug. Only a cup run could bring in the cash needed to keep the wolf from the door and attract the investment that long-term survival would demand.
Of course Spurs did win the cup, inspired by Paul Gascoigne on the way before he gave way in his personally calamitous final to other heroes - Paul Stewart and, er, Des Walker. It didn't end happily for Venables - the Alan Sugar saga started then - but he will know now what salvation a cup could bring. These are early days to have such thoughts, but when it's the only straw they have to clutch at, some at Elland Road will do so.
Though most they will feign indifference now, it would surely bring round many, certainly enough, Leeds fans to give the regime a chance to stabilise itself in the summer. It would be a first trophy since 1992, and that league championship was a solitary oasis in what would otherwise now be 29 blank years. Only in 1972 have they won the FA Cup, with defeats in the finals of 1965, 1970 and 1973 adding to the value of a 2003 triumph.
A cup win wouldn't assuage the anger of all Leeds fans - only Ridsdale in the stocks outside the Majestyk night club could do that - but it would buy time.
And so, as you huddle round your radio this lunchtime listening to the draw, imagine Peter Ridsdale watching his executive television, his hand touching the wood of his executive desk, hoping that "Gillingham or Leeds" comes out at home, and against lesser opposition, while a couple of their bigger rivals meet each other.
For the rest of us, a Leeds FA Cup triumph would open up an all-too imaginable horror: the dark brown smell on Jeff Powell's tongue as he combined a paean to his close, personal friend with a tedious hatchet job on Sven-Goran Eriksson even if England had spanked Turkey in the mean time. But for Ridsdale, that would be a small price to pay.