Fans are already calling for heads to roll, but I'm not one
TO say this week has been disappointing for Bristol's two football clubs would certainly be somewhat of an understatement. City slumped to their sixth successive defeat, while Rovers are on a run which has seen them lose their last four games.
Both teams are starting to look as though they are facing up to long battles against relegation as we close in on the halfway point of the season. So what needs to be done to turn things around at both Ashton Gate and the Memorial Stadium?
Sack the manager, some might and have actually said, but I'm certainly not one to subscribe to that school of thought.
Haven't we seen enough comings and goings in both dugouts over recent seasons to recognise that a quick fix doesn't really ever solve anything?
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Having said that, it is understandable that some supporters will be of that view. Football is a results-driven business. Both managers are long-enough in the tooth and experienced enough to expect some flack.
So where do we start when attempting to dissect the efforts of both teams in a season that has so far been littered with false dawns and if, buts and maybes?
Hopes were high at the Memorial Stadium at the start of the season after Mark McGhee arrived to steady the ship following the turbulent six-month tenure of former boss Paul Buckle earlier this year.
Mark was careful not to talk up hopes of a promotion charge before the season started – in public at least – but could anybody really have predicted that Rovers would be one point off the foot of League Two with 15 games of the season played?
Rovers supporters, like fans across the land, want to see something that gives them hope that things will change – but I fear that the fan-base will be divided over their manager following Tuesday night's disappointing defeat at the hands of Southend United.
My own feeling is that Rovers need to stick with Mark and give him the opportunity to turn things around. I think Rovers' problems stem from a pre-season in which Mark was unable to get the players he wanted for one reason or another.
The departure of Mustapha Carayol and a mounting injury list in the weeks since has meant that Mark has essentially been fire-fighting for most of this season so far.
The encouraging signs are that some of the players have shown they are good enough – even if they have not done that consistently – and now Mark has to try and get the best out of them.
Mark has always been keen to outline that the squad – essentially one of young players – is being built with a long-term plan in mind.
He will be well aware now, however, that how he fares over the next month or so ahead of the Christmas period could play a part in whether he is the man to try and carry out that plan. Supporters need to be reassured and the only way for that to happen is for Mark to try and find a way to help his side claim a couple of decent results.
It is a similar story over at Ashton Gate where injuries to Stephen McManus and Cole Skuse in defeat at Birmingham on Tuesday night served to offer Derek McInnes further problems to contend with.
Losing McManus is the latest in a long line of problems the manager has had to contend with at the heart of his back four, while Cole, although sometimes not always regarded as a fans' favourite, is the sort of Mr Reliable you look to when times and results are tough.
Both managers I would imagine will be looking closely at their players' body language over the next few days to determine exactly who they can trust in their respective sticky situations.
Who is up for the battle? Who is skulking around in the corner or trying to shy away from taking responsibility?
How many of the players can you look in the eye and know for certain that they're up for the battle?
What I'd expect both managers not to be looking at, however, are their respective club fans forums.
They'll be getting stick; it comes with the territory – but one thing I learned quickly after going into management is not to read forums or papers.
I remember a time in the early days of my managerial career a day on which my Torquay side beat a Ray Graydon-led Bristol Rovers 2-0. I picked up the paper on Monday and thought: "This is great!"
It was all compliments and praise for six weeks after that – until we started to lose a few.
The compliments quickly stopped coming and I started getting pelters for some of my decisions. I stopped reading and I'm pretty sure this is something practiced by quite a lot of managers these days.
I know supporters of both clubs are finding it difficult to keep faith after recent performances.
The answer, however, is not to keep changing managers.