Chris Sutton wrote a big piece today in which he praised the manager and offered him support.
I am sure that Ange appreciated every word of it, perhaps more than Hartson’s suggestion from during the week that the board offer it to him publicly instead.
Neither man can be faulted for giving the manager backing, and Ange needs that at the moment with some of the nonsense that he has had to put up with in the mainstream press.
Hartson suggested in midweek that the club should make a statement in support of the manager; this would have added to the sense that we’re in a crisis, and we’re not.
But Sutton said that second place will be good enough this season.
I wonder how many of ours fans would agree with that, although most people are sympathetic to the position that the manager has found himself in and appreciates the size of the rebuild. Those things alone might not be seen as reasons to accept another title for our rivals.
There are objective reasons above and beyond the revulsion it would cause.
The Champions League bounty will give them another season or two in which they could maintain a challenge; there are no circumstances under which a section of our support would accept them securing that cash.
I can understand those who say everything must be done to prevent that outcome. There is no alternative.
Ange understands this better than most of the people arguing the case in his favour. Surviving would be difficult. He would have to get very, very close and even then there are people who will say that losing was the only thing that mattered and want him gone.
One argument in mitigation is that replacing the manager might require another re-set and the club has had enough turmoil and upheaval. But how long would that suffice as an excuse? How long would it be alright to hang onto a manager in the interests of continuity?
Losing a second title in a row to the club across town would present the impression that they had overhauled us as the biggest club in the land. That will have consequences beyond the immediate horizon in terms of sponsorship and advertising. It brings greater UEFA revenues. It gives legitimacy to their board and their manager.
They shouldn’t be near us.
We all know that this board has slept at the wheel and presided over a disaster in allowing them to win one league. It would be catastrophic if they won a second, and it would ask hard questions about everyone at the club.
Ange would not escape that scrutiny.
Even if he avoided the sack, his jacket would be on a shaky nail and a bad start to the following season would see him ushered off the premises and plunge the club into a further period of uncertainty.
Sutton did the right thing by writing a supportive piece, but he cannot say that second place would be something that fans would, or should, tolerate.
As my good friend Anthony Dunn said on one of the Endless Celts podcasts, most fans don’t want a title challenge. We want a title.