SHEFFIELD Wednesday manager Alan Irvine has condemned football's sacking culture at a time when the axe hangs over his own head at Hillsborough.
Irvine, whose team have gone five games without a win, openly admits that his job is under threat ahead of today's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Hereford United.
Although Owls chairman Milan Mandaric insists there will be no panic moves, anything less than a victory today against the League Two club would serve to intensify the pressure.
Irvine, 52, took charge at Hillsborough just over 12 months ago and his team sit four points adrift of the League One play-off zone after being relegated last season.
With Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers' Association, working alongside Mandaric on the Owls board, Irvine has a major ally in his fight for survival.
But Mandaric has never been slow to sack managers in the past – dispensing with 13 different men during his 12-year involvement in English football.
"There's no question about it, results have not been good enough and as a result of that, I am fully aware that there is a chance I will lose my job," said Irvine.
"But I will keep on working as hard as I can and hopefully things will turn around.
"I speak to Milan on a daily basis and we have not talked about my situation, we have talked simply about footballing matters.
"We have not had a conversation where he has said either one way or another about my job.
"I can understand the speculation – that's the nature of this job – but if I spent all my time worrying about it, instead of worrying about getting a result, it wouldn't be very productive."
Irvine was the subject of a hoax email last weekend – sent to the media by a disgruntled Owls supporter – which stated he had been sacked.
South Yorkshire Police are investigating the matter and the supporter involved is now banned from Hillsborough.
"Message boards, websites, phone-ins – it's generally the people with extreme views, one way or another, who will go on these things," Irvine observed.
"Before you know it, things catch fire like wildfire. And it's never going to go back, it will only become worse."
Irvine says he would welcome any move to extend the basic idea of a transfer window to managers, guaranteeing that those in charge could not be sacked until a specific stage of the season.
"A 'window' would avoid the month of sackings which generally starts about the end of October and gathers momentum," he said. "It started with two unexpected ones this year; Chris Hughton (Newcastle United) and Sam Allarydyce (Blackburn Rovers).
"I spoke to Sam and I sent a text to Chris saying I thought I could never be surprised by football anymore – but I was surprised by what happened to them as their results were good.
"I don't think that sort of window would ever come in," he added. "It would be good because it would settle things down and stop people looking over their shoulders but we are in a situation now where there are so many factors driving this lack of patience, this desire for instant success."
Recalling the four years it took Manchester United to win a trophy under Sir Alex Ferguson in the late Eighties, Irvine said: "Sir Alex is a classic example of people sticking with somebody but these are very different times.
"I don't think he would have been given that amount of time now – and that would have been a really bad mistake from Manchester United's point of view.
"You can hardly find a manager in the country that has had time now – Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and who else?
"The LMA have stated that changing a manager does not necessarily bring you success but, whenever you are not getting the results, the first thing people think about is changing the manager.
"It's absolutely ridiculous because all you do is go from one problem to another.
"A new manager will come in with his own ideas and start changing things around as quickly as he possibly can.
"Before you know it, that becomes very expensive and not necessarily fruitful or productive.
"But that's where we are and I, like all other managers, understand that. If you don't win your games, they will make changes."
Wins over Southport, Northampton Town, and Bristol City have taken the Owls to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in a decade.
They have not progressed to the fifth round since January 2000 where they lost to Gillingham.
"If we were playing Tottenham or Manchester United this Saturday, we would all be saying 'come on, let's really go and enjoy this experience," shrugged Irvine. "But we are expected to beat Hereford and everyone, apart from those connected with Sheffield Wednesday, is hoping there is going to be an upset."