Chris McLaughlin's words of the weekend: Alan Archibald must find right answers
BBC Scotland's senior football reporter, Chris McLaughlin, analyses a talking point from the weekend's action, asking what's behind the words.
|"That's not up to me, that's up to the board."|
|Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald's reaction to being asked if he expected the club to continue to keep faith in him.|
When once asked to describe the fickle nature of football, former Motherwell owner John Boyle replied, "one day you're a peacock and the next day a feather duster."
It had an air of comedy, but the serious meaning of Boyle's comment wasn't lost on his audience. When it comes to managers under pressure in particular, the clichés can be stacked up like early season P45s: it's a results driven business; he's lost the dressing room; he's a dead man walking etc - but managers themselves feel pressure long before we in the media trot out the tired old lines.
Alan Archibald is a man who gives little away in broadcast interviews - but his post-match comments following his side's latest defeat were telling.
The longest serving Scottish Premiership manager has a habit of turning things around at Firhill and his side are notoriously slow starters, but there was more than a hint of unease when Archibald was asked about his future on Saturday. Journalists no more like asking the question than managers enjoy answering it, but both sides know the drill. We're all human but there comes a time when it's expected and managers usually know when it's coming. Bringing the board into the equation as a deflecting tool or a way of getting out of the headlights is never wise though. It simply leads to more questions.
Three points from a possible 27 and propping up the rest at the bottom of the table is evidence all is not well. Injuries may have played a part in recent results but mitigating circumstances never find their way on to a CV. How long Archibald is given to turn things around is now dependent on his relationship with his directors. His anxiety may come from looking north. Jim McIntyre worked well with Roy MacGregor for a long time at Ross County but was unceremoniously moved on after just seven games of the current season. When the spectre of the drop appears, no matter how far off in the distance, friendships and history can quickly be forgotten.
It's history though that may well allow Partick some patience - that and loyalty to a man who has shown plenty in the past. The 39-year-old has been linked with numerous jobs during more successful times - Hearts and Swindon Town this year alone. If he's been a man desperate to get out of Maryhill and seek new challenges elsewhere, he's always done an excellent job of masking it. In an industry where lack of loyalty fails to draw even a resigned shrug of the shoulders these days, Archibald has been viewed as old school.
From a managerial point of view, only through good results can the luxury of loyalty be offered. Last year Partick finished in the top six when early season results suggested they would struggle. In the two previous seasons, Thistle finished ninth and eighth respectively. Under Archibald, they are rarely found flirting with relegation when the real fighting begins. In fact if the last two seasons are anything to go by, the Jags fans can look forward to a run of wins sometime in December.
But as he again searches for this season's 'on switch', Archibald would be wise to watch his words.
Looking and sounding like you are not under pressure when everything else clearly suggest you should be can help buy much needed time. Composure, control and confidence is the key when the tough questions come flying.
Partick's Peacock may have lost his way but he's far from a feather duster just yet.