Nobody, not even the staunchest and most loyal members of Sheffield United’s support, would dare to argue the club has made a successful start to the new League One campaign.
A record of one win, one draw and six defeats makes, as David Weir acknowledged ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers, for pretty miserable reading.
But amid the hyperbole and invective provoked by that disappointing run of results, perhaps it is time for a little sober reflection. For fear of coming over all Nick Clegg and Tony Blair, (well, it is conference season after all), sometimes the centre ground is worth fighting for.
Inevitably, a return of four points from eight outings has provoked calls for Weir to be sacked and a new face with new ideas to be installed. Despite the fact that reactionary thinking has hardly served United well in the past and accelerated their slide into English football’s third tier.
It is worth remembering that, only last term, AFC Bournemouth did not win any of their first six matches and only one of their first 13 before gaining promotion. Mischievous readers will claim they did so after a change at the helm. But Eddie Howe, Paul Groves’ replacement, lost five on the spin as the Championship race approached its final furlong and still went up.
Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet, two current media favourites, won only four and six of their first 10 and 12 contests as managers respectively before going on to make decent fists of things at MK Dons and Brighton.
However, given the radical changes Weir is implementing behind the scenes, Sean O’Driscoll provides a more accurate measure of how a slow-burn approach can suddenly explode. The 56-year-old, interviewed for the United vacancy in 2010, won only two of his first 17 in charge of Bournemouth and zero out of eight at Doncaster Rovers. Two clubs who have both out-performed United of late.
Now I’m not saying that a managers should be allowed an infinite amount of time to prove their worth. I don’t know whether Weir will eventually be a big success at Bramall Lane.
But what I do is that, as O’Driscoll has previously shown, only in extreme circumstances it is possible to make an accurate assessment after so few games.