Matthew Tipton will be the first to admit that football is a results business. He said as much in a number of post-match conversations we had, but despite only two league wins this season — both away to Warrenpoint Town — before Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Dungannon Swifts there had been no indication of restlessness.
His relationship with the board who appointed him as Niall Currie’s successor in March 2018, after being overlooked twice, first when Ronnie McFall walked away from Portadown in March 2016 and then again when Pat McGibbon quit later the same year, was as tight as any manager in the league had with his employers.
Tipton was as responsible for the renewed bond between club and fans as anyone else, even holding weekly open meetings with supporters.
The players too have never been anything but positive when talking about how they enjoyed working with their manager.
Why then are the Ports now looking for a new boss and those players are not sure who will be picking the team for tomorrow night’s Danske Bank Premiership clash with Crusaders?
Well, it’s that results business.
Those other things aren’t enough to keep a manager in a job.
Neither are performances that don’t render points.
That, however, has been the tale of Portadown’s season.
Football is littered with what ifs and managerial departures always come with plenty attached.In Tipton’s case there’s no shortage, mostly to do with dropping points from winning positions.
What if Portadown had held out after being in front against Glenavon, Linfield, Carrick Rangers, Larne and Cliftonville at home this season?
What if they’d beaten Linfield when it was the Ports who arguably created the better chances in a 0-0 draw with David Healy’s men?
What if just one of those draws had been turned into a win?
In his final interview as Portadown manager Tipton himself said that the team looked ‘bereft of belief and bereft of confidence’.
Chances are that a shot of confidence from a big victory would have had a knock-on effect and the ‘what ifs’ would have been fewer.
The pattern of lead, concede, draw, repeat at home had the opposite effect.
To his credit Tipton never used it as an excuse, but it is no secret that players had been playing injured and until the January window brought new faces in, the bench had been filled with youngsters who have barely started shaving, let alone being ready to be thrust into a relegation scrap — which is what the Ports find themselves in.
So what if Tipton had a full-strength squad to pick from?
With the sceptre of relegation hovering over them the club’s board couldn’t wait long enough to find out.
The question ‘what if we go down?’ just isn’t one that they could contemplate.