When news of Max Gradel’s departure broke I was sat outside Manchester Airport waiting to pick someone up, which is probably for the best, because the last thing Leeds United fans needed at that moment in time was an “I told you so” speech.

I’ve expected Max Gradel to leave for a while now. When there’s as much speculation as there has been, you can only assume his agent is trying to engineer a move elsewhere. Added to the “please guide me God” tweets from the man himself (Gradel that is, not God) and the unconvincing reassurances from Ken Bates and Simon Grayson, it always seemed inevitable.

Regardless of my views on Ken Bates and his cancerous impact on our beloved club, I’ve always remained hopeful. I knew little money would be spent this summer because Bates doesn’t believe in spending it on footballers. Nothing annoys him more. For Ken, long-lasting assets like hotels and bars are much more important than bags of meat and bones that can kick an air-filled piece of leather around for 90 minutes. They make him money, footballers cost him.

This Bates-defying belief I’ve maintained throughout his reign has helped me overcome two administrations, relegation to League One, a total loss of form in our promotion season, the Jermaine Beckford saga and even the red card of Max Gradel v Bristol plus much more besides. Through it all, I always had belief that Leeds would defy the odds and rise again. I’m a tough nut to crack – but at some point in pre-season, my outer-shell shattered.

What this hard, outer-shell left behind was a Leeds United fan submerged in apathy. One that met Max Gradel’s departure with a reaction of “ah well, life goes on…” rather than the contrasting rant of the messenger. Expectation governs these reactions – when you expect the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised.

This fundamental change inside me has helped me accept Leeds United are not the biggest club outside the EPL any more. I know that’s a theory we all like to perpetuate, but what reasoning do we have for it really? The biggest fanbase? All that means is that there is more people to moan when things go wrong.

The truth is, you can’t call yourself the biggest club outside the EPL when your star players leave to play in a French league no one really cares about. Nor can you call yourself the biggest club when you’re unable to compete with Ipswich Town on wages. Football’s biggest club is measured by financial might, power in the transfer market and ultimately, success. Leeds United have none of that.

What Leeds United are nowadays is a club at odds with itself. We’re the Newcastle United of the Championship. A mid-table side with unrealistic expectations fueled by a fanbase that defies our level of success. Sure, every once in a while we’ll flirt with success and overreach, but that invariably leads to a huge crash landing soon after. We constantly build ourselves up for painful falls, we just can’t help ourselves.

Apathy is the last escape of all football fans. I’m not kidding myself, I know it’s a temporary state of mind that will undoubtedly be broken by a good run of form, but for now, there’s something comforting about it. With no expectations, I’m at peace knowing another kick in the balls will be along in no time and that Gradel’s exit will seem trivial by comparison.

With that in mind, I wish Max Gradel nothing but the best. In the grand scheme of things, he was just a small footnote on the long history of “ups and downs” this club will continue to endure. On and on…