Whatever happens Sheffield United should be crystal clear on one matter - Alan Biggs
and live on Freeview channel 276
Everyone hopes the Blades have a successful season. By which we mean staying in the Premier League – and I absolutely don’t put it past them.
But let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if they didn’t. Especially after the sad loss of their most gifted player, with Iliman Ndiaye finally prised away by Marseille.
And being real about the way football operates these days, if United flounder the first thing the owners are likely to consider changing is the manager. It’s just the way football works. Nobody looks around the next bend anymore.
If things are going awry after, say 10 games, international breaks are perilous for managers.
I have no idea whether that sort of thinking applies at Bramall Lane. Nobody would confirm such a thing. What I do know, at least as an opinion, is that if it does exist, it is wrong.
Certainly you can say it would be some achievement if Hecky survives the season, in whatever circumstances.
It’s not fair on him and most of all it’s not fair on the club to embrace any other kind of measure on which to judge him.
Would he have been operating under similar pressure had United just missed out on promotion? Don’t forget the utterings that accompanied his unveiling in November, 2021 – that his appointment was a long-term project and that he wouldn’t be judged on results.
The latter part of that statement was utter rubbish, of course. Every manager expects to be so judged and this one is no different.
But if you do judge him on results – a win rate nudging 60% – then you back him through this hugely difficult campaign and support him to bring the club back to the top flight if they are relegated.
And why not make that clear right at the outset? Because if you don’t, the football speculators and betting markets will have a field day, further destabilising the situation.
It would be different if United had gone on a summer spending spree. It’s been barely of Championship level.
And we have yet to see how much of the Ndiaye fee will be reinvested. You’d bet far from all – and we are talking of a talent which is irreplaceable on this club’s buying levels.
So, let’s be clear, we are looking for achievement against the odds. Which is not to say it can’t be done. This management team, including Stuart McCall and Jack Lester, has proved highly resourceful.
It is also a tight and close-knit team that can safeguard the future, negotiating any bumps in the road.
Chucking it away on a short-term gamble might or might not work – in the short term.
But let’s not forget how the gamble backfired on Leeds, Leicester and Southampton – all relegated after managerial changes last season.
This, for me, is not the path to tread. United should make that clear from the start and in doing so give themselves a better chance of toppling the tipsters.