Be careful what you wish for

Date: 9th February 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Suddenly it is that time of year.

We have gone from “promising start” to “possible title challenge” to “disappointing run of results” until we await… “the inevitable”.

With a changing of the guard at Kilmarnock already, pressure mounting at Tannadice and Pittodrie, whilst it looks like it has lessened at Celtic Park managerial change is in the air.

There are those who have managed to escape the pressure like the man at the helm in Livingston, David Martindale, the man identified by Craig Levein as the best young manager in Scotland, Jim Goodwin in Paisley and the man who looks the most likely to achieve legendary status as a player and a rookie manager, at two clubs and in two countries, Steven Gerrard.

The problem facing all fans is that football happens to operate in swings and the accompanying roundabouts. Like an unnatural law written somewhere, what goes up is likely to come back down again. Some clubs might not fall through the leagues in relegation terms but their success one season, can often turn to relative failure the next. Whoever got us promoted may not be the guy who can take us to the “next level” – whatever that may be.

Whilst we may be in awe of the reigns of people like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson it is because their longevity is unusual. Whither our comparable records? With a few months short of being a decade in the manager’s chair, it is in the unfashionable seat at Peterhead that our longest serving manager sits, Jim McInally.

Geographically close by, the fans and the media are gearing up speculation over the next manager of Aberdeen.

As I saw the 2-0 loss to Hibernian, being registered on Saturday the 6thof February, I waited for the announcement. There was surely going to be someone somewhere who would come out and say it, campaign for it and put together the interview schedule for the next man to fill the boots of a rather remarkable servant who has brought glory to the Dons; but maybe not enough of it.

It is not so long ago he was being considered to sit in Govan but now there are clear indications that Derek McInnes may have spent his last transfer window in the North East. Since 2013 he has been the not so cheery face of the Red Army descending upon the rest of the Premiership in search of a win.

Stacked against him are – a hefty wage bill in comparison to their nearest rivals in the league – Hibs, the fact that they are underperforming in comparison to Hibs, are below Hibsin the league, are facing complaints from Aberdeen fans over the recent style of play – as dreich as a North Sea winter, and only one win in their last eight which is tumbling down the league form and falling away from any hope of European games for next year form. And to put the tin lid on it, the Board are neither issuing a statement of support nor a note of concern.

But there are those in the know who know… and they know change may be imminent…

Under McInnes there has been a renaissance. Of course, he was never going to match the achievements of Sir Alex – was he not? – but regular European nights, coming close to cracking the title against Ronny Deila, consistently getting to the later stages of cup competitions and the Scottish League Cup win where memorably, chairman of the time Stewart Milne became a supporter live on air for the briefest of seconds that was such a fantastic reaction are his record.

For fans, though, the recent form is the step too far and there is little doubt that McInnes may be staring at his P45 some time soon…

The club, who will have to dig deep to move him on is also looking at a new training ground, a new stadium and they may have a new manager to complete the picture. Of course, we all have fallow periods in our careers – the question is, as supporters, should the Board act swiftly so that the fallow period does not lead to permanent failure in the lower leagues, or should they be careful what they wish for?

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