By Simon O'Rourke, Sport Correspondent
Steady on now."If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs..."
If - by Rudyard Kipling.
Steady isn't sexy. But sometimes steady is what you need to steer you through troubled waters. Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland all have what you might refer to as "steady" managers. All three clubs have made what you might refer to as "steady" starts to the season. None of them has lost 7-2 at Aston Villa. Or 6-1 at home to Spurs. Or 3-0 at home to West Ham the weekend after thrashing Manchester City 5-2.
These are deeply uncertain times for the world, and that's being mirrored within football. Things are happening that we're just not used to and everything feels a bit chaotic and volatile. Football obviously looks and feels very different at the moment because (at the higher levels) there are no fans allowed at the games. I've covered some behind closed doors games and they are deeply, deeply strange, trust me. It's leading to some deeply strange results.
As always, the Premier League grabs the headlines on this, but it's happening elsewhere as well. Reading, (hopeless last season) are joint top of the Championship with a 100% league record. Nottingham Forest, (among the pre-season promotion favourites) have lost every league game. Lincoln City are top of League 1 with a 100% record. Everywhere you look there are tales of the unexpected.
Until you look to the North East, where most things are progressing largely as you might have expected. Let's be clear, this is not a piece in praise and defence of Steve Bruce. I'm not doing the national TV pundit thing of saying "He's doing a great job up there" without ever having watched his team play. It's a nuanced argument and Newcastle Fans are all entitled to their own opinion on their Head Coach, the tactics he deploys and the football they're watching.
But the Magpies are 9th in the Premier League after 4 games and into the League Cup quarter-finals. They've made a steady, not brilliant, not terrible start to the campaign. Newcastle fans aren't as happy as Everton Supporters, but they're not as worried as Fulham, Sheffield United and Burnley fans.
In the Championship, Neil Warnock has made a long and successful career out of being a brand that does exactly what it says on the tin. Boro are 10th in the Championship. Not brilliant, not terrible.
League 1 "specialist" Phil Parkinson has Sunderland in 4th place after 4 games. They haven't clicked up front, but they've only conceded one goal and that was a penalty. Not brilliant, not terrible.
These are unprecedented times and this is going to be an unprecedented football season, whether we like it or not. So maybe this is a time for those able to meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same. Maybe steady has its place at this moment.
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