The first thing to say is that football is no game for the naive, and that anyone expecting clubs and individuals to play nice at all times, especially in periods of uncertainty, has probably picked the wrong sport.

The next is to ask, even when considering all that, if the directors' box, a couple of seats along from the owners, is really the right place for any well-known, out-of-work manager to be entertained at a time the current incumbent is trying to save his job?

It is about what things look like as much as anything. If Lee Clark's intentions were as innocent and honourable as he says, when showing up at Brunton Park for the second successive home game, then fair dos.

One wonders, though, if those who welcomed the former Bury manager into those seats were mindful of how it may have appeared to the man in the technical area, Keith Curle, whose attempt to turn this into a play-off season - and so strengthen his case for another contract - continues at Yeovil today.

Free country, and all that. United hardly had reason to reject Clark's request for a ticket. The question concerns his position in the ground, and the fact that, had he wished to be much closer to John Nixon in the stadium's most powerful seats, he would probably have had to be married to him.

What was that, at a tense time, other than giving observers an excuse to ask questions, whether on the right track or a few dozen yards down the garden path?

Clark says he has been a regular visitor to Brunton Park over the years, and this much is true. His connections with the club - his brother-in-law is the former Blues striker Paul Baker - also go a touch deeper, it turns out, than simply taking in the odd game.

Respect for Curle, he said, prevented him from even getting into a conversation about whether he'd fancy the job in the future - the only honourable line to take. How he privately feels about being a part of speculation these past two weeks is an unknown in matters like this.

How Curle and those close to him feel about it is another. Chances are, a person like United's boss is long enough of tooth to know the drill, particularly when a sense of insecurity is felt in certain corners of a club.

With a few short months left under contract, the idea that potential suitors for the job are not already looking at the Blues would be fanciful. Much of this will be done discreetly; a nudge here, a call there, a representative here, a pair of eyes there.

It is an uncompromising game and a manager has no choice but to live with it. Something still makes you wonder, though, if Curle, whatever your opinion of him, deserves a little more respect than to have another angle applied to his job security like this: not just whether he is right or wrong for United, but whether the next figure in the chairs alongside the club's hierarchy is or isn't positioning himself for the post.

If those at the top do not want that sort of sideshow, they could surely avoid it. They run the place, after all, and nobody has more sway on where someone does or does not sit.

The directors' box is a small but important domain. It is a little segment of influence and connection. Some people pay for the regular privilege of being there. Anyone showing face who could set tongues wagging is only there in the first place with official consent. That person may also have an amount of choice on where, exactly, he positions himself.

Those in charge of United may have done nothing more than field Clark's request for attendance and found no grounds to object. How last Saturday (and the one before) looked from a distance, though, given the current situation, is what we are talking about here.

It is the image projected - not something Carlisle's owners have given the impression of being conscious of, at times, during their reign. To even slightly enable the debate over Clark this past week suggests either a disregard for that possibility, or a comfort in that debate having grown legs at all.

It can be remembered that Curle himself wasn't spotted at a United match until he was on the brink of the job, at a time when they were in the last days of caretaker control. Whether or not other contenders sharked at Brunton Park during Graham Kavanagh's decline, Curle was not a face in the crowd until the 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury in September 2014.

No damage could be caused by his appearance in Shropshire, since those in the technical area were there temporarily. Hiding in plain sight was no longer anyone's worry. The decision to appoint him was, in any case, fairly advanced.

It was certainly not the middle of February with a play-off push still to be determined. A vacuum, of course, loves speculation, and the fact no contract offer has been pushed across the table to Curle means all sorts of rumours and theories will thrive, some of them absurd, a few less so.

There is not enough basis to begin the discussion about whether Clark's record would make him a credible successor. Equally, should United wish to move on from Curle, one has to wonder if a man often seen at the ground, and who plainly has a respectful relationship with certain directors, would not come under some sort of consideration.

Cynicism might not be a helpful emotion when weighing all this. Nor, though, is an innocent reading of every last movement in football. The other week, Curle said he did not want his future to become a "popularity contest". Even that, though, would be better than several more weeks of gossip about hovering names, which could surely be brought under at least a degree of control.

At the heart of this we are still talking about a man's livelihood. Even if Curle is not your cup of Earl Grey, that ought to matter.