It wasn’t long ago that we were beating Fulham, had a cushion above the drop zone and everyone was looking up. Two games and two miserable defeats later, there’s an angry mob following Sunderland. The pressure is beginning to crush down on Gus Poyet’s reign, and he isn’t handling it very well at all.
Pressure is an ever-present part of football management, in the Premier League at least. When things aren’t going well that inevitably increases, and eventually it gets to a point where the pressure begins to suffocate a manager. Where every move, every tactical change, every aspect of your managerial life is scrutinised. That’s when a change is necessary, and I feel that we’re slowly edging towards that point.
Bradford was an opportunity to get back to winning ways, and victory would have allowed us to go into the West Brom game with a little bit more freedom. The truth is, defeat to West Brom on Saturday won’t destroy our season – there’s still three months and plenty of winnable games left – but it could be the nail in the coffin for a manager who is rapidly losing the fans.
Retaining the support of the fans is as important as anything else in management in my opinion. Attendances this season have been as high as they have been since Reid left, but that can’t continue without change. Yet I’ve never been the type to insist on sacking a manager. Instead, I’d rather cling on to any hope I can find that Poyet will come good.
The trouble is, this is the first time Gus has come under serious pressure since he arrived last year. The successes of last season came about when the team had no expectation whatsoever – only when the club was doomed to relegation did we go on an incredible run to survive, and we were probably underdogs in each Capital One Cup game from the fourth round onwards. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that games against lesser opposition prove to be far more difficult than the rest. Motivation is a real issue.
But even if we did bring in a new manager, who are the realistic options? Going for an overseas appointment would, for me, be the only choice. I say that because we would surely look to avoid another lower league gamble (ruling out Eddie Howe, Mark Warburton etc.), and the likes of McClaren and Lambert don’t excite me. And then we’re left with taking a risk on a manager with no experience in England. I don’t believe we’ll get relegated, and so I don’t believe we should take that gamble. In the summer, fair enough, but not now. And I’ll take plenty of criticism for saying that.
The only way this situation gets better is with good results, starting at West Brom. If we lose, then even I would have to accept that the infamous Gus Bus has well and truly crashed.