LIKE most marriages, especially those of convenience, the relationship between football clubs and the media can veer from bliss to bedlam in the time it takes a bride to flutter her perfectly manicured eyelashes at the groom.
What is right for one is not always wonderful for the other. And vice versa.
Danny Wilson’s handling of Sheffield United’s push for automatic promotion is one such instance.
His low-key approach, which demands that squad members look no further than the next game or comment publicly on the strengths and weaknesses of their rivals, seems sensible.
But I make no apologies for saying it doesn’t always make my job as The Star’s United correspondent easy. And has led, if my Twitter feed is anything to go by recently, to renewed claims this newspaper is biased towards a Sheffield Wednesday team, some members of which have adopted a very different approach.
That’s not being critical. There are plenty of ways to handle a situation and, as Wilson himself often reminds, folk conduct themselves in a manner which suits.
Nor, to borrow a phrase much loved by one of his predecessors, am I attempting to blow smoke up anyone’s a**e.
Wilson, who makes for entertaining company, has a responsibility to take United up. Not furnish me with stories.
The latest misunderstanding seems to be a classic case of shoot the messenger. If Wednesday’s Gary Madine chooses to proclaim United are “nothing” without Ched Evans that’s up to him. It’s a cracking line but, apparently, one we should ignore.
That’s censorship. The preserve of the KCNA or TASS.
I know from personal experience it’s a footy fans’ lot to spot conspiracies at every turn. So our critics shouldn’t interpret this column as a dig. Professionally speaking, I also know, having lived in a city split along rugby league lines, that the media in such patches are inevitably perceived as favouring one side over the other.
You won’t be surprised to learn we don’t always agree on the sportsdesk. Story selection is subjective.
Plenty of times I’ve thought one of mine hasn’t been given enough prominence. Others when, in the grand scheme of things, I thought they were given too much.
But I’ve never caught my bosses huddled behind the water cooler devising ways of destabilising United. Or Wednesday.
Yes, long before my time here we launched a ‘Save our Owls’ campaign.
Fortunately, I’ve never had to write about United teetering on the edge of financial oblivion.
But I do remember being dispatched to Premier League HQ to petition them over the Carlos Tevez Affair as part of a Star crusade which seems to have been conveniently forgetten by some.
(Oh, and just for the record, we’ve published more articles about United than Wednesday since March).
Urban myths about readership demographics abound. As far as I’m aware, proof of bias doesn’t.
Because it doesn’t exist. And why would it?