Under-fire Warren Joyce is likely to be rewarded with a one-year contract extension by Melbourne City - no matter how the club fare in the finals series.
Despite being forensically scrutinised by his bosses at the CIty Football Group - with Manchester City-based executive Brian Marwood having the final say on his future - indications are that Joyce will be given a reprieve and a third season to deliver results.
The Englishman has endured a turbulent reign marked by bust-ups with players, an often turgid playing style, a divisive disconnect with the club’s shrinking fan base and a perfunctory relationship with the media.
It has been widely speculated - even anticipated - the ex-Royal Antwerp, Manchester United Under-23s and Wigan man would be tapped on the shoulder at season’s end, unless sixth-placed City manages to accomplish something extraordinary during the finals series.
But with the club still in the hunt for a home final as they jet to New Zealand for the Easter Sunday duel with fifth-placed Wellington, a surprise survival act appears to be in the offing.
Specifically recruited to add steel and discipline to the squad after the perceived laidback era of predecessor John van’t Schip, Joyce, 54, has embraced the hard taskmaster role with relish, summarily discarding the likes of Tim Cahill, Neil Kilkenny, Dean Bouzanis and most controversially Uruguayan marquee Fornaroli.
Bruce Kamau was also frozen after his agreement to join Western Sydney Wanderers and off-contract Luke Brattan has had his turn in the eye of the storm.
After a debut season in which City finished third, only to be beaten in the semi-finals by Newcastle Jets, Joyce’s second year - thus far - has produced little to cheer about, other than securing a top-six finish.
City, under Joyce, have been largely joyless to watch but should they upset Wellington and then defeat Central Coast at home in their final game of the regular season next Friday, then a fairytale culmination to the campaign might yet be in their sights.
However, with just two wins in their last 10, City have shown few signs of a miraculous burst of form - limping rather than striding into the finals.
Melbourne City were contacted for comment.