FOOTBALL is supposed to be a funny old game.
Unless you are a manager. Then, it is more fickle than a wannabe WAG at FIFA’s Expo Convention.
Think I’m joking? Just look at how Danny Wilson’s first six months at the helm of Sheffield United are perceived by different sections of the South Yorkshire club’s support.
Depending on who you ask, there are either great times ahead or Bramall Lane is spiralling inexorably towards sporting disaster. Wilson, on any given weekend, a saint, sinner or deluded half-wit who reckons it is possible to pass rather than pummel your way out of League One.
For fear of coming over all Tony Blair, surely it’s possible to find some middle ground amid the maelstrom of conflicting opinion?
Wilson is doing a solid job. Not spectacular - as United’s wretched result against Bradford City in midweek demonstrates - but pretty damn decent nonetheless.
Before I’m accused of – to borrow a phrase from his immediate predecessor – blowing smoke up Wilson’s jacksy, it’s worth considering the facts.
When the former Northern Ireland international was unveiled, amid much hullabaloo and acrimony earlier this year, folk were saying that a combination of factors meant United were destined to finish in mid-table at best. Scroll forward a few months and, having won five of their opening six League One games, automatic promotion was a cert.
Anything less should be punishable only by death or a season ticket for Peterhead. Now, once again, they find themselves teetering on the edge of a crumbling precipice having plunged to the depths of fifth in the table.
Given that United are going through a transitional period - with some potentially season-defining challenges looming on the horizon - that seems a creditable ranking. All nine of the teams who have climbed out of the third tier since 2009 have been ranked inside the top six at this stage.
Quite rightly given the talent at his disposal, Wilson concedes anything less than a shot at Wembley next May would represent a failure even though much of it could yet be spirited away during the January transfer window.
Like the Government’s public-sector cuts, those United must implement are either yet to take place or bite. A frightening thought given question marks about the senior squad’s depth.
But, in fairness to Wilson, most of his problems have been inherited, their solutions difficult or impossible to fathom given some well-documented but necessary financial constraints.
Don’t shed any tears for Wilson. He was well aware of those when he accepted the task of trying to lead United back to the Championship.
We are always told that football is now a business. But how many managing directors of multi-million-pound companies have thousands of people, the majority of whom reckon they can do a better job, camped on the other side of their desk?