Like it or not, Aston Villa - and their manager David O'Leary in particular - have a bit of an image problem right now.
Going into Sunday's Premiership derby with West Bromwich Albion, it's hardly a surprise that most non-Villa fans in the region will be rooting for a Baggies win.
A large factor in that will be O'Leary's curious decision last weekend to trade verbal blows with a local football reporter, whose most heinous crime was simply that he is a Baggies fan. And the big question going into the Albion game is just how much support for himself O'Leary has eroded by his words, portrayed in many media circles as bordering on the paranoid.
O'Leary's judgement may be open to question, but the Villa manager's regrettable outburst has not suddenly turned him into a bad manager.
The club lie in 15th place in the Premiership table, thanks, largely, to their dreadful home form.
They are only seven points clear of nearest pursuers Birmingham City, a gap which could be closed to five if Portsmouth beat Blackburn Rovers tomorrow afternoon, then four if Blues triumph at Wigan Athletic later in the day.
Another home defeat at the hands of Bryan Robson's Albion, with Steve Bruce's Blues to follow at Villa Park seven days later, could open the floodgates not only on a tidal wave of more abuse for O'Leary, but a truly nightmare end to the season.
The unthinkable idea of relegation still haunts the place.
Equally, should Villa win on Sunday and restore badly missing confidence to a more-than-decent team, who would then be surprised if they won a few more times before the end of the season?
It's all on a knife-edge. Assistant manager Roy Aitken insists the way they have at times been portrayed in the media is similarly poised.
In any story of this thoroughly forgettable campaign, mention has to be made of the small, injury-stretched squad O'Leary has had to work with, as well as the backdrop of proposed change at board-room level, which has constantly undermined most of his efforts to improve. But the Villa No 2 points out that, too often, such a balanced analysis has been ignored.
"Every club around us this year have been getting excuses made for them," said Aitken. "Unfortunately, when we tend to tell the realism, it sounds like Villa looking for an excuse again.
"I read in the papers about the problems other clubs have had in the Midlands but, when we mention the problems we've had, it gets taken as an excuse that the manager is making, which is unfair.
"But at least the fact that the players have come out en masse at different times and supported the manager shows there is no problem as far as loyalty is concerned."
If O'Leary has no worries over rumours of a split dressing-room, he has been accused by one of his predecessors at Villa Park, John Gregory, of losing the support of the people that should matter most, the paying public.
It was clear in their last home game 13 days ago, the 0-0 draw against Fulham which preceded Saturday's outclassing by Arsenal, that Villa fans are split. Gregory this week suggested that O'Leary, who has previously sidestepped opportunities to talk to supporters via fans' forums and local radio phone-ins, only has himself to blame.
"Villa fans are very passionate," said Gregory. "But they're also quite willing to put up with things and it takes a lot for them to turn on a manager.
"I've had a long association with the club and I've never known Villa fans turn on a manager ever, regardless of the position. Villa were 16th in the table when Doug Ellis fired Ron Atkinson, but the fans were still supporting him. They loved Ron to bits, because he was one of them but I reckon David has made a monumental PR error in distancing himself from the fans.
"The Birmingham fans still support Steve Bruce, because they feel he is really passionate about the job, the club and about the fans. They respect that but I don't think David has done enough to get close. They've put it up with it all and now they've finally turned on him.
"Aston Villa are not as big as Manchester United or Arsenal but they're still a huge club. In terms of support and stature, they're arguably in the top six or seven and you always expect Villa to be at least in a Uefa Cup challenging position. And when Villa haven't been in the top six or seven, that's when they've normally done away with their manager."