Sheffield Wednesday present two conflicting scenarios that would shatter any crystal ball.
1/ The takeover goes through and Stuart Gray scrambles together an improved line-up of some potential if the long-awaited signings are right.
2/ The saga drags on and drags the team down with it. Hopefully not literally, though it would be foolish to dismiss that danger.
Right now it would also be foolish to predict the top end season that fans crave. Frankly, the club might have been better placed – as of this precarious moment – had no-one come to the table.
Which brings me to the thought that there are really three scenarios rather than two. The third is that, however reluctantly, Milan Mandaric carries on as before. Some believe that would not be the worst outcome and, considering weeks of damaging uncertainty, I’m with them on that.
What the club can least afford is something in between. It needs a sense of direction and currently, albeit through no-one’s fault, that is lacking. If there is anyone more hacked off by this than the supporters then it will be Mandaric himself.
So if he feels, as he evidently still does, that Hafiz Mammadov will come through, then fans have reason to trust him. But if it doesn’t happen, and quickly, then I wonder if there will come a point when it is Mandaric pulling the plug. For the good of the club he saved and clearly cares for.
Mammadov caught Mandaric unawares when the buy-out deal was leaked early. Milan would have good cause to take the initiative if it continues to stall. Certainly, it set some sort of record for bizarre happenings when Mammadov’s first public statement from S6 was to deny being arrested in his homeland. Which is not to say that, as a man of undoubted means, he won’t deliver.
But the one constant throughout this episode is assurances from sources close to the chairman that the worst that can happen is a continuation of his regime. There’s no casting adrift.
It is only the infuriating delay and the complexity of Mammadov’s business affairs that give that impression. One way or another, that sense of insecurity has to be removed. It saps morale.
As for the team, Gray can only do so much for now. I don’t doubt there are some good players lined up. But it would be grossly unfair to him and a large, loyal fan base to suggest Wednesday are equipped to prosper.
Mid-table is about the best I, for one, can manage for the moment – and that at a push. Let’s hope push doesn’t come to shove where that other, all-pervading matter is concerned.