Your boss calls you into his office. He’s looking at some sales figures. You’ve been with the company for nearly three years, you joined when they were on their knees, but in that time you’ve improved those figures year-on-year.
He looks up and asks you how sales are this month. A little below budget, you say, not the worst you’ve had in the last year, but broadly on par.
He fires you on the spot.
Would this not strike you as a) a little unfair and b) an act of complete madness? This is effectively what those questioning Chris Wilder’s position are suggesting following the draw with Burton on Saturday.
The pundits claim that football is a results business. This is just a way of building a wall that creates the myth and legend of football and the magic and genius of its exponents. Name me one business not built, in some way, on results? But, what other business judges its performance over just 90 minutes? Surely it’s better to judge a manager on a full season?
I accept that you can’t wait until the end of each season to make a full assessment of a manager’s performance. Sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses before your season and, perhaps, your very existence is condemned.
Gut feel sure as hell isn’t a good measure. How about a 46 game rolling points total? That way you smooth out short-term blips in form and hot streaks and get a much better feel for overall progress. Well, in the first 46 games following promotion (including cup games) we accumulated 63 points.
In the 46 games up to and including Burton on Saturday we accumulated 64 points. We were 5 points off the play-offs last year, that means we’ve clawed back 20% of the points that would make the difference between a par finish and the play-offs. And that 46 game sequence includes a 3 and a 5 game losing streak. Moderate form to will see us much further ahead in terms of the overall target of the play-offs and promotion.