In the words of an American Civil War era Gospel song, All Black coach Ian Foster is currently having to walk that lonesome valley.
Check out some of what's been said and written since the draw with the Wallabies in Wellington. If you believe the pundits then under Foster the All Blacks have already "lost their aura". Apparently he has the team "playing tiddlywinks". Another critic claims the man "many assume pulls the strings" is actually assistant coach John Plumtree.
Foster will have enough on his hands working out where things can improve at Eden Park, as he juggles with selection issues forced on him by injuries.
But if the kicking he's getting from media commentators does weigh on him at all, he might take some consolation from the fact he's still far from the most unpopular All Black coaching appointment, and two men who were initially slated proved to be hugely successful.
The 2007 World Cup winning coach, Graham Henry, is now, quite rightly, Sir Graham, but when he was first appointed, after the 2003 World Cup, it was far from a popular decision.
Ten days before Henry's selection, on December 19, 2003, a poll on Paul Holmes's hugely popular TVNZ show attracted 8889 people. Two-thirds favoured keeping John Mitchell, who had achieved an 83 per cent winning ratio during his three seasons coaching the All Blacks.
Huge success for Henry's sides quickly erased misgivings amongst the fans, but was just a curtain-raiser for a tsunami of denigration after the early exit of the All Blacks from the 2007 Cup.
What Foster has copped to date feels like high praise compared to the reactions when Henry was reappointed ahead of a challenge from the hugely successful Crusaders coach Robbie Deans.
In December 2007, our only undefeated All Black coach, Fred Allen, said, "(Henry) will be an old man by 2011. It's time for a change." Our only undefeated All Black captain, Buck Shelford, said, "Ego is starting to control the affairs of Graham Henry. The World Cup was a disaster. It's time to move on. We need a change."
The New Zealand Herald reported the reaction of an unidentified former All Blacks coach (my money would be on Fred Allen) on Henry's retention as being: "Oh, for f***'s sake." Their veteran rugby writer Wynne Gray said, "Retaining Henry did not reflect the mediocrity of the entire season and a flawed entire World Cup campaign, let alone the Cardiff capitulation."
Henry would provide the ultimate answer to his critics by fashioning an All Black side that would become the best in the world, and prove the point by winning the World Cup in 2011.
While the nation's reaction wasn't as violent as it was to the 2007 decision, it shouldn't be forgotten that when Laurie Mains, whose 1995 World Cup All Blacks should be rated right up there with our three winning cup teams, was named as All Black coach at the end of 1991, there was a savage backlash.
Mains had faced a powerful challenge from John Hart, who had coached at the 1987 World Cup with Brian Lochore and Alex Wyllie, and had been co-coach with Wyllie at the 1991 Cup. As a provincial coach with Auckland, Hart had done it all, taking three national titles, and winning the Ranfurly Shield. Mains had one NPC title to his name.
When Mains got the nod, veteran journalist Ron Palenski would write that Hart was "seen to be different, and the conservative rugby mentality can't handle that". Andy Haden, always quotable, went much further. "Laurie Mains," he said, "couldn't lead a silent prayer."
In 1991 there was even dissension at the highest levels. The chairman of the NZRU, Eddie Tonks believed some on his board unfairly saw Hart as an unwitting lightening rod for controversy. In what must be the most unusual welcome ever to a new job, when Tonks rang Mains to say he'd been voted in, his cheerful message to the new coach was that "the s*** will hit the fan now".
Mains' tenure actually began with a loss, 28-14, to a World XV, the first of a series of games to celebrate the centenary of the NZRU. The vultures circled, but Mains would ultimately produce the World Cup side of 1995, where Jonah Lomu was a superstar, and the display in the 45-29 thrashing of England in the semifinal deserves a place in the golden circle of best ever All Black World Cup matches with the 1987 semifinal whipping of Wales, the golden 2011 semifinal win over Australia, and the glorious 2015 victory against the Wallabies in the final.
Henry and Mains have shown the way for Ian Foster. As it was in the beginning, so it is now; the only guaranteed way to stop sniping from the sideline is to win. The incentive for victory at Eden Park on Sunday is huge.
Footnote: In the course of a hugely enjoyable chat with Junior Fa on Newstalk ZB, a highlight was when he told Simon Barnett and me why he doesn't feel afraid in the ring: "I never viewed boxing as a brutal, brutal sport. I just saw it as a high-risk game of tiggy."