SO 'Sergeant Wilko' got his marching orders and George Graham - 'bung, drawn and quartered' by the football authorities last year - became the new whiter-than-white manager of Leeds United. After eight years in charge of the famous Elland Road club, during which he steered them to an unexpected championship in 1992, Howard Wilkinson was sacked on Monday and replaced on Tuesday by the former Arsenal boss Graham, back in circulation after completing a 12-month ban for accepting illegal payments - or 'bungs' as they are known in the game - during two transfer deals. The week's events would prompt TV pundit Jimmy Greaves to turn to his old sidekick Ian St John and mumble: 'It's a funny old game, innit Saint?' Indeed it is in this case - and for a number of reasons. Just over a year ago, Wilkinson made a personal appearance at the FA-conducted 'bungs trial' of Graham to act as a character witness. Now Graham has his job and Wilkinson has his pay-off. But while Wilkinson can walk away from Elland Road with his head held high, pride and dignity intact, this will never be the case for Graham after his dishonest dealings. Two weeks ago, Graham turned down the chance to succeed Alan Ball as manager of First Division Manchester City, despite earlier declaring an interest in the job. 'It's not the right time for me,' said Graham, who waited in the wings as his big mate Wilko suffered under the Premiership spotlight. He didn't have to wait long. The last straw for Leeds United and their supporters came last Saturday when they slumped to a tortuous 4-0 defeat at home to the club they love to loathe: Manchester United. Worse still, one of the goals was scored by Eric Cantona - and many Leeds fans have still not forgiven Wilkinson for selling him to the Old Trafford club four years ago. (While we're on the subject, what about David Batty, Gary McAllister and Gary Speed for that matter - all cult figures at Elland Road during Wilkinson's reign but now with Premiership rivals Newcastle United, Coventry City and Everton respectively.) Wilkinson, a strict disciplinarian who earned the nickname of 'Sgt Wilko', was on his way out and Graham was on his way in with a kitty of GBP10 million, courtesy of the club's new owners, Caspian. By the way, surely it's no coincidence that Richard Thompson, the former QPR chairman and one of Caspian's major backers, lives in the same Hampstead apartment blocks as Graham. All in all, a pretty messy business and an episode which scratches at the glossy surface of Premiership football. It all goes to show the pressure that players, managers and directors have to cope with in these cash-crazy days of English football, days when the present is the only thing that matters and when the future never comes. It's hard to believe, for example, that Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership as recently as 1995 because now they look like a First Division team again. Surely the days are numbered for their manager Ray Harford. Elsewhere, Ron Atkinson must be concerned as his Coventry City side prop up the Premier with only one point from five matches. Who knows what will happen next? Someone, somewhere, obviously does.