FOOTBALL FANS are often accused of being fickle. Usually by club chairmen, managers and players who rightly or wrongly find themselves on the critical side of popular opinion.
This morning, guest columnist in The Star, Ian Rands, a fellow blogger on Sheffield United, performed a U-turn that Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg and former deputy prime minister, would have been proud of. Nine days earlier Rand, who runs the website A United View, took part in a debate with me and published in The Star, on whether Nigel Clough was the right man to lead United next season.
It would have come as no surprise to regular readers of A View From The John Street that my answer was an emphatic no. Thankfully, as events proved four days later, the Blades owners and directors were thinking along the same lines. Rand argued rather lukewarmly for Clough to remain manager.
Today, under the headline ‘Optimism over the start of Adkins era at Bramall Lane’, he heralds the arrival of Nigel Adkins with unhindered enthusiam, saying: “Do I think we have the right man? Yes. Do I think we have a better manager following the change? Yes. He adds: “So as a Blades fan I look forward to the coming months in a way that I was not a couple of weeks ago. I look forward to seeing Adkins addressing the gaping gaps in the line-up that Clough failed to deal with in the final five months of the season." The gushing didn’t stop there. “I look forward to a new era commencing at Bramall Lane.”
Only nine days earlier Rand, whilst acknowledging some of the previous manager’s failings, had said in the very same paper: “With a period of calm and reflection I think he [Clough] should remain as manager.” He added: “United need a period of stability, something we have lacked with six permanent managers in the last five years.”
Clough’s dismissal, along with his six-man entourage, lifted a huge cloud hanging over Bramall Lane. The appointment of Adkins has replaced it with renewed optimism. Not for change’s sake, but because, as Rand quite rightly points out, the new manager is an improvement on the last one. In my view, a major improvement.
Football is, of course, a game of opinions. As in life it’s also full of fair-weather friends. None more, it seems, than Rand. With indecent haste he has been so eager to distance himself from the Clough regime he had argued less than a fortnight ago should remain intact for the good of United.
Some fans are indeed fickle. Blogger Rand might be the first where Clough is concerned, but distasteful as it was, he won’t be the last. There are (or were) a number of Clough apologists in the media and elsewhere. It will be interesting to observe their switch of allegiance. None I suspect quite so smoothly as this one.