Take It To The Next Level, Alan
Honeymoon period - the phase early in a long-term relationship with a person that is characterized by greater than typical joy and lesser than typical friction.
Some thoughts on the introduction of Alan Irvine to the Hillsborough hot seat:
At times, when you look at the managerial merry-go-round, you wonder if all that chopping and changing is worth it. When you're Manchester City, with money to burn and the Champions League a priority, when things aren't going well you can willfully cast aside your manager without a second thought and shell out for a new one. Hang on a minute though - Mark Hughes was dumped on the day City beat Sunderland, and the be-scarfed Roberto Mancini's first three league games were against Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn, plus a date with Middlesborough in the Cup. It could have been a lot tougher for him, couldn't it?
Wouldn't Sparky have done just as well? Why make a change and spend all that contract payoff cash when you're set to get nine points from three of the Premier League's lesser lights anyway and reclaim your place in the top six with little effort?
At Wednesday, I can see similarities. Yup, I know we were on the horror run from hell and ultimately Brian Laws had to be responsible for that. But relief surely was around the corner - January's winnable games against Barnsley, Posh, Scunthorpe and Plymouth. An upcoming February schedule including matches against Reading, Ipswich and Doncaster. Points were going to come from those games anyway.. weren't they? Plus any 'bonus' points we picked up from the tougher games by good luck or sheer hard work.
From what I read and hear, Alan Irvine is a straight-talking no-nonsense character who has reminded the players of their responsibilities and how to keep their shape, especially when defending. But they're the same players. Irvine can't simply wave a magic wand overnight and turn them into champions. Is a change of manager all it takes - a fresh outlook, a quick kick up the backside, some targets set, a chance for our boys to impress the new gaffer?
The dividing line between success and failure IS very fine in this division. There's Middlesborough, in 9th place, two scrappy 2-1 wins (since that's what we seem to be good at lately), six measly points, and a massive ten places above us. Something to aim for and something achievable, surely.
With four wins out of five since he got the job, I think we're rapidly becoming Alan Irvine fans. I'm glad we have a man at the helm who has real experience of managing in the Championship. But would we have been in the same position with Brian at the club? The sign of a real difference in the Wednesday squad will come for me when we're competing well and nicking points from games like our next challenge - away at high-flying Forest - or the dreadfully difficult March we have coming up - Leicester, West Brom, Swansea.
As a cautious Owls fan who doesn't always look on the bright side, that's when I'll be really sure Alan Irvine has made a big difference.
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