Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
That is probably an apt way of describing what has been going through Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack’s mind in the last 48 hours.
Opinion among Dons fans is clearly divided on Derek McInnes, but due to Covid-19 it is hard to gauge whether it is a 50-50 split or whether it is a vocal minority who are simply shouting loudest in calling for change in the Pittodrie dugout.
Had fans been at Pittodrie, getting a feel for the general mood would have been a far simpler task. But what is apparent is that the message, from social media platforms in particular, has been loud and clear.
It has been impossible to miss the number of replies, and the content of them, which have come in response to every tweet from the club’s official account or indeed those tagged at Cormack.
What we don’t know is how they were received in Santa Rosa Beach in Florida where Cormack resides.
Did Cormack wobble? Were their seeds of doubt? Was he tempted to make a change? Those are questions only the chairman can answer.
But as it stands the man at the top at Pittodrie has publicly backed McInnes to remain in place.
The response from those calling for change has been predictably sour, but for now McInnes stays. Whether it will be for the long term will be shaped by what happens on the field.
This is a binary situation for all concerned at Aberdeen and, barring a spectacular collapse which would necessitate action being taken sooner rather than later, the Dons boss has 11 games, plus the Scottish Cup if it resumes, to prove he is the man to lead the Dons into the next campaign.
Some fans will not agree, but McInnes deserves his chance at a redemption act. Those Hampden trips for cup semi-finals and finals, those European trips, the consistent league placings have to count for something surely?
If they do not then why would any prospective manager dare take on the task of succeeding McInnes when the day does come, whether that is anytime soon or years from now? The next man in at Pittodrie will have to meet the bar set by the man currently in place.
A bar no-one has come close to emulating at Aberdeen or any club outwith Celtic or Rangers in the last decade.
Debates can be had about the style of football, the personnel, the signings, those sold on, but facts matter when it comes to the manager.
Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, it is clear McInnes has been a model of consistency.
That is likely the biggest factor of all in why Cormack has resisted those calling for a change at this late stage. The stakes are high for Aberdeen, especially with Livingston threatening to reel them in too until their remarkable renaissance was halted by St Johnstone at the weekend.
But with those stakes now so high McInnes knows he has to shuffle the decks and come up with some aces in the run-in.
With several players out of contract in the summer, a clean slate is there for the manager.
Cormack is looking to McInnes to show he remains the man for the job.
🔴⚪️ Would switching to a back four and the return of Niall McGinn to the team help Aberdeen create more chances and get them scoring again?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) February 10, 2021