This is to do with the dishonesty, humbug and spin of everyday corporate life, whether the corporation makes biscuits, produces oil or runs a football club.
It has nothing specifically to do with Sunderland AFC, or whether we/they should stick with Steve Bruce in the belief that for all the unpromising signs, things are still more or less on the right course.
That is a related but different argument which is endlessly debated here and at many other places (I remain in the Bruce In camp, but only just and also because I have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that his hand has been forced in one or two key decisions that have adversely affected performance and prospects).
My attention was drawn today to a Sky report headlined Black Cats Dismiss Bruce Talk. It was top of the list of SAFC-related stories at newsnow.co.uk – we were in the exalted slot earlier this week with Gyan: the truth? – and cried out to be read, especially by those of us who do not necessarily see the UK media each day, because its implied meaning was so clear.
I had read of rumours that Niall Quinn had talked about stepping down as chairman, rumours he had denied, but nothing about speculation that Ellis Short was losing patience – or had already lost it – with Bruce.
The Sky report is, for the most part, a routine lump of he said/she said denial journalism, albeit punctuated by mention of betting odds putting Bruce at 3/1 to be the next Premier League manager to go:
Sunderland are vehemently denying newspaper reports that they are considering the position of manager Steve Bruce, Sky Sports News understands.
It had been claimed that after their defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, club owner Ellis Short was seriously considering making a change.
It went on to say a newspaper report had stated that Sunderland were considering Bruce’s position, but that the club had told Sky Sports News this was far from the truth: “Sources (this is usually an exaggeration and means one source – ed) have said that there is ‘no question about the manager’s future’.”
These sources (or this source) then added something I have never before seen.
… and the club wanted to emphasise that this was in no way a ‘vote of confidence’ but just a dismissal of the claim.
There you have it. Someone within SAFC , authorised to brief Sky on what the club wants to say but will not or judges it can not say more openly, feels the need to admit that one of the biggest lies in football is the boardroom “vote of confidence” because announcing such a vote actually means confidence has evaporated and dismissal is imminent.
And what if Bruce is sacked after all?
How would that affect the way we approach club statements about the future of managers?
We would need to devise a reliable formula for establishing a distinction between a simple “vote of confidence”, which could safely be assumed to be fraudulent, and a denial of planned action that included the assertion that this did NOT amount to a vote of confidence, especially if experience went on to show that it led to the same conclusion in any case.
You couldn’t make it up. No, that’s wrong; Orwell pretty much did.
But none of this is of SAFC’s making.
The form of words chosen by the source, sorry sources, simply reflects a recognition that if people have stopped believing all that they read in the press, they most certainly have no more reason the believe everything they see in an official or semi-official statement.
And don’t worry. There is no immediate need for confusion anyway.
Bruce is going nowhere. He will lead SAFC to victory at the Stadium of Light on Sunday and Carrow Road eight days later – that was not a pig I saw flying past the window – and all, once again, will be well in the world.
Watch this space.