Alan Irvine’s fate as Sheffield Wednesday manager will be decided by results and quite rightly.
Until that happens, he is entitled to a little decorum and respect, both of which went out of the window last weekend.
Rampaging Sunday afternoon rumours that Irvine would be sacked next day, whipped up by a disgusting hoax announcement purporting to come from the club itself, went way beyond the boundaries of acceptability and the kind of criticism managers willingly accept.
Just a bit of a jape, claimed the perpetrator. Trying to get someone sacked? Some joke, that.
I’m told Irvine was even referred to as a “f****ing idiot” on an internet fans forum (without the asterisks!) on a thread entitled “I hate Alan Irvine.” That kind of stuff is indefensible in anyone’s language; even worse that sites allow such mindless rank abuse to be posted.
It all smacked of a despicable attempt to dictate to new owner Milan Mandaric and effectively stampede him into removing his manager - which undoubtedly he will do in his own good time if results don’t pick up. The shame of it all is that just a few keyboard cowards (warriors?!) give the vast majority of decent fans, many of whom express criticism in the right way, a bad name.
Having saved the club, Mandaric, like Irvine, is entitled to better treatment.
He has been highly supportive of Irvine publicly, so the criticism could equally be interpreted as an attack on him.
Not that current results and performances are acceptable, far from it. Irvine will know that better than anyone after five games without a win including unaccountable hidings at Exeter and Leyton Orient.
Across his year in charge, there has been an avoidable relegation and a failure, so far, to mount the expected strong promotion challenge.
Irvine will be be aware that Mandaric - by his own admission “not the most patient of men” - might feel he has to act in time to effect an uplift if there is no improvement soon.
Promotion is demanded and nothing less. But this is the first time Irvine has had a clear run at the job, unfettered by severe financial contraints - and does it really make any sense to sack a manager just as he is making a whole raft of signings?
Irvine is a thoroughly professional man, an intelligent and respected coach with a good name throughout football. He also happens to be a top-class person and does not deserve to be hounded.
Hopefully he still has time to remove himself from the firing line.