In the cut-throat world of high-end football, where the quest for results by egotistical, megalomaniacal chairmen sees a new manager seemingly trotted out, with the same regularity of a matchday press conference, there’s less of a mocking at other teams’ problems and more of a feeling of ‘there, but for the grace of God , go I’, from a fans’ perspective.
One team’s supporters who should hold this empathy are Sheffield Wednesday’s.
The prudent nature of Milan Mandaric’s reign may, at times, be frustrating but the Owls owner summons that word ‘stability’ upstairs, which for quite probably a majority of league clubs in modern times has become almost as important as what’s going on, on the pitch.
This week, Mandaric’s contemporary at Leeds United, Massimo Cellino, got rid of another manager; Darko Milanic lasting just over a month at the helm at Elland Road which was a little shorter than the last ‘permanent’ boss David Hockaday, but after taking his seat on six occasions in the dugout, they oversaw the same amount of games.
Cellino showed a mild interest in buying Wednesday before deciding that a Yorkshire club further north would be where he would pitch up his dictatorial camp.
If that spine-tingling thought doesn’t warrant a collective ‘phew!’ from the Owls faithful then, over in France, they have an example of another dodged bullet.
RC Lens, under the ownership of Hafiz Mammadov, are struggling near the bottom of Ligue 1.
Admittedly, that’s not necessarily a surprise for a team who have just been promoted, but it’s the manner in which their season has played out that provides the misery for Lens’ supporters.
They almost didn’t make it into the top flight at all due to a failure to provide proof that their Azerbaijani businessman owner had the money to cover the promotion.
Eventually the leap up was granted, however, they were banned from buying new players and having lost half a dozen over the summer, describing the squad as threadbare would vastly underplay the situation.
On Friday night, the ‘Sang et Or’ as they’re known, actually picked up a rare win - beating Toulouse 2-0 away from home - but they did so with the most amount of under 21 players in the starting line-up in France’s top flight for 11 years. Four 19-year-olds and two 20-year olds began the game and it appears as though Mr Mammadov is nowhere to be seen at present. Sound familiar?
The transport tycoon came very close to taking over at Hillsborough in the summer - his country’s Land of Fire logo still adorns the Owls’ shirts - only for Mandaric’s patience to snap and the deal was eventually called off following a series of delays.
This past few weeks, Wednesday fans have got a little edgy again, calling on the owner to splash the cash in search for a striker, even after Gary Taylor-Fletcher was brought in. While the lack of goals is a concern, things could be a lot worse - you could support Leeds or Lens.