Give Sundram time to get it right
Football fans are notoriously known to be hard to please.
Just look at Claudio Ranieri and Arsene Wenger, who have had to bear the brunt of scathing criticism despite leading Leicester City and Arsenal respectively to unprecedented success.
At home, there were calls for Radojko Avramovic's head a few years ago despite the Serb delivering three Asean titles.
His successor, Bernd Stange, did not win any trophies and faced the same fate.
A common refrain was: Why deny local coaches a chance to lead the national team?
Funny how some of those critics now want that opportunity taken away from V Sundramoorthy, the first local Lions coach in 15 years.
They scoffed at the Football Association of Singapore's decision to extend his contract by two years after a lackadaisical first year in charge.
Just two 1-0 wins - neither of them in competitive matches - in 12 games before the third-round 2019 Asian Cup qualifying opener against Bahrain tomorrow is definitely cause for concern.
But the Dazzler must be given more time to prove his worth, with the qualifiers and the 2018 Suzuki Cup his litmus tests.
Unlike Sundram, none of the last three Singapore coaches - Vincent Subramaniam, Avramovic and Stange - got the job on a caretaker basis at first.
No other Lions coach this millennium had to face the uncertainty of a one-year contract, or was poached from another club or country mid-season.
Stange, Avramovic and Jan Poulsen were all in between jobs when they were recruited by the FAS but, when Sundram was approached for the national job, he was in the midst of an S.League title race with Tampines Rovers, whom he had also led to the AFC Cup quarter-finals, a first for a Singaporean side since 2008.
With the Stags' blessings, the 51-year-old answered the country's call to take on the thankless job last May.
I say thankless, because at that time, there were few successes to build on.
Those who say he is basically a different coach picking the same players as those before him should see the other side of the coin as well.
Avramovic benefitted from the Young Lions programme when it was still a success, as it unearthed talented footballers such as Baihakki Khaizan, Shahril Ishak and Khairul Amri.
The Class of '92 has yet to hit such heights, but the likes of Faris Ramli and Shakir Hamzah could still do a job for Stange, with seniors such as Izwan Mahbud, Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin leading the way.
With the Young Lions now languishing at the bottom of the S.League, it is no surprise that none of their players was called up for tomorrow's Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.
It is also not Sundram's fault that the national youth teams from the Under-14s to U-23s tallied just 10 wins in 62 games - a damning statistic that reflects the dearth of talent in the youth ranks.
Sundram will surely stick with the tried-and-tested and adopt a safety-first approach against Bahrain tomorrow.
Some will sigh and moan, but why are we surprised that Sundram, a creative genius in his playing days, is now a defensive coach?
As a player, he has done things his own way, even if meant clashing with opponents and officials.
Now, he makes no apologies for sticking to tactics and philosophy that he believe in.
Sundram is his own man, as we can see with his inclusion of 132-capped Daniel Bennett and the omission of 129-capped Baihakki.
He even benched 39-year-old Bennett and started 19-year-old Irfan Fandi Ahmad, who acquitted himself well in defence in the 2-1 defeat by Afghanistan last Thursday.
Shawal Anuar, who like Irfan was also given only his second cap by Sundram, clinically scored his first Singapore goal.
Sundram will, however, agree that coaches are ultimately judged on results.
Beyond hosting the 1984 edition, when Singapore qualified automatically as hosts, the Lions have never qualified for the Asian Cup. But even in their current slump, Group E looks navigable.
The Lions may have lost all six previous encounters against Bahrain, but the Reds are not the powerhouses they used to be.
Bahrain are now ranked 127th, their worst Fifa ranking since finishing 138th at the end of 2000.
Even if form prevails and Singapore lose to Bahrain again, they can still go through with the fairly realistic scenario of beating Turkmenistan and Taiwan home and away.
By all means, criticise the coach and the players when there are dubious decisions and poor performances.
If the Lions suffer another winless campaign and fail at next year's Suzuki Cup, it is hard to envision Sundram staying in the job for another two years.
But there is the opportunity of a fresh start now.
Sundram and his team can do with all the support they can get as they attempt to make history.
David Lee and Benjamin Seetor's trip is sponsored by Qatar Airways Singapore. Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 195 aircraft flying to more than 150 business and leisure destinations including Doha and Manama. The world's fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations, including Dublin, Nice and Skopje, to its network this year.