'I've got an honest bunch of lads'. The phrase most used by David O'Leary that bored all reporters to tears eventually came back to haunt him.
It was the honesty of key senior players that finally sealed O'Leary's fate as Aston Villa's manager. They blew the whistle on him and confirmed what all local football reporters have known since the confusing events of Friday, July 14 - that O'Leary was behind the attempt to destabilise chairman Doug Ellis by getting certain play-ers to bitch about the old boy.
That pay-off to O'Leary of around £500,000 is, in reality, 'Keep Your Mouth Shut' money.
Ellis basically said that if O'Leary goes quietly, he won't let the football world know about the chain of events that sparked off that remarkable Friday when both camps went into overdrive and there was more spin than you'll ever see in a spell from Shane Warne.
Doug Ellis may be many things, but he's no dummy. Like the rest of us, he wasn't taken in by O'Leary's claims that he never reads the papers, knowing that his former manager had a few confidants in the press and fed them unattributed tit-bits about life at Villa Park on a regular basis.
Most managers have their media conduits - I confess to my own involvement in the process down the years - and O'Leary was no different.
The two local reporters invited by O'Leary to get a fresh slant on his relationship with his chairman are now fully vindicated, despite unworthy attempts by the club to bad-mouth them.
The manager leant on a few senior players to feed discon-tent about Ellis to the journos and they would have been daft to pass up that open goal.
All other attempts to blur the issue, quibbling about the amount of players involved and whether it constituted a statement, are of no consequence.
In the end, O'Leary was undone by a fatal flaw. He proved not as clever as he thought he was.
His successor needs to be more clever. He must ask hard, searching questions of Ellis. What are the chair-man's intentions, short-term?
Clearly, he is not for the long haul, despite his half-baked notion of wanting to be carried out of Villa Park in a box. He may have been joking when coming out with that quip, but Ellis needs to show now that he really cares about his club.
It is no longer the vehicle for his vaunting ego. The fact that Aston Villa FC seems to be his life is his problem. No man should ever be too big for a football club.
He's got the stand named after him, despite not being around during Villa's greatest 12 months, beginning in May 1981. That should be enough. Ron Saunders and Tony Barton weren't so favoured.
No experienced, self-confident manager would surely want the job unless he gets the right assurances from Ellis.
There will be many candidates out of work who will make the same mistake as other Villa managers - that he'll be around after the chairman has gone. From Ron Atkinson onwards, since 1991, that has been a constant delusion.
The chairman should instigate urgent talks with the Solihull businessman Michael Neville to ensure a speedy handover of power. Ellis will make a substantial profit, and he'll recover some lost prestige by demonstrating that he really loves the club.
Stop counting the pennies and faffing around like old Arkwright in Open All Hours and acknowledge the need for new blood and dynamism.
Unlike other wannabe consortium leaders, Neville has the best interests of Villa at heart - something Ellis insists is highly relevant in shaping his stance to any proposed takeover. Neville has been negotiating with Ellis since last summer, suffering endless rebuffs and false dawns, but he keeps coming back for more. Others would have given up the ghost long ago.
Neville is generously disposed towards Ellis and would ensure he is treated with respect. If he can effect the takeover soon, he would love to install Martin O'Neill, who is clearly the outstanding candidate.
That would be a hugely popular choice and Neville would be cute enough to deflect praise for him over such a coup in the direction of Ellis, in clearing the way forward by stepping aside with dignity.
If Ellis digs in his heels, he would struggle to land O'Neill. The Irishman's quirks would not appeal to a chairman who expects to have his manager on call to deal with the slightest whim.
Over a decade ago, O'Neill walked out on another autocratic chairman - Robert Chase - after just 12 games in charge at Norwich. O'Neill's forecast that Chase would usher in a disastrous period for Norwich came true.
Since then, O'Neill has kept every one of his club chairmen at arms' length. Ellis would not get his way with one of the sharpest operators I've known in football.
O'Neill would want to know why Villa haven't had a chief executive since May 2005 and why he should be expected to work on a shoestring budget when his last job at Celtic saw him regularly operating in the Champions' League. That's the aspiration of O'Neill, not mere survival in the Premiership.
It's now up to Ellis to demonstrate an awareness that leadership should be farsighted and selfless at critical times.
This could be one of the seminal weeks in Aston Villa's history. Or it could turn out to be another exercise in fudging, prevaricating and missing the boat.