To the passing outsider, football might just seem a pointless and futile sport, one which encourages nothing but aggravation and raw masculinity within the thick, over-paid players and the mindless, rowdy fans. However, for those even slightly associated with the game, they have a better understanding, and know that the above rarely applies to anyone. This is because, no matter how much of an enthusiastic fan you may be, you will have a burning passion and various strong opinions on your team and your players. Most unfortunately, fans are a fickle bunch, and are greatly annoying in their ever-changing views on their team, and others around them.
No fans can get away with claiming that they aren’t fickle, as this is a downright lie. All fans have a selection of people, (usually the vast majority), who have views that either turn out to be offensive, contradictory, or just plain wrong. I’ll start with a subject that I probably know the most about, and that is the signings that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has made of late. After the catastrophic period of ex-owners Hicks and Gillett, John W Henry bought the club and has made a large amount of money available to purchase new talent, something that Dalglish has capitalised on, especially last summer. Various new players have been introduced, the ‘donkey’ that is Andy Carroll, youth investments in Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates and perhaps more established players such as Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing. The vast majority of these players have been branded flops and failures, despite the fact that none of them have yet even played a full season for a team commonly recognised to be in transition. Possibly the most infuriating thing is that though there is a certain amount of criticism from elsewhere, the vast majority of it has a source of the Liverpool fans themselves. For a club that prides itself on backing the team, I personally find this pathetic. Sure, the payback from Andy Carroll goal-wise hasn’t been acceptable, but the fact that his price was so high has put a huge amount of pressure on him, a factor that was way out of his control. One must also consider the fact that he signed on a five year deal, and is still only at the age of 22, and should be given time to mature his game, something that can also be said of Henderson, who despite not setting the midfield alight, has not mad many outstanding mistakes that he can be heavily criticised of. He is young; give him time to mould his game. Despite what some people say, Dalglish is a clever manager and would not spend that much on a player he didn’t really believe in. In regards to Downing, he has so far been a disappointment, but the time he has had has been minimal, so perhaps the Liverpool fans should back the team rather than slate it, and cast their minds back to the last time they heavily slated their players (Lucas & Skrtel) and how beneficial these players are quickly becoming for the club.
Of course, there are many other clubs who can easily be found guilty of this annoying fickleness. Most recently, there has been the highly controversial, yet not entirely unpredictable sacking of AVB, the former young manager of Chelsea. Ever since the taking over and large investment of a certain Russian, Chelsea have had a great deal of success (3 league titles and 3 FA Cups in eight years is not to be sniffed at), and this has therefore, understandably, led to the inevitable result that fans’ and owner’s expectations have grown considerably. However, since Ranieri, there have been an incredible six managers at Stamford Bridge, with the latest victim being AVB. There is cause for argument over the sacking of the other managers, but the sheer number Abramovich has been through has been astounding, and this time, AVB didn’t have backing from many fans either. It has been a greatly-accepted fact throughout the English leagues that Chelsea’s squad of late is one in great transition, with many ageing, and undeniably in some cases, players who are depreciating in quality. Therefore, a young manager with a good vision surely needs to be given time to rebuild a squad, and especially one with as many illustrious characters as Chelsea’s. He only managed to make a handful of signings, yet there can be no denying that Juan Mata, the only major one, has been a great success. However, a season which so far hasn’t looked like delivering a premier league title with a squad that quite simply could not manage it, and the world’s most expensive flop whose purchase wasn’t his decision, and AVB lost the fans’ backing and got the sack. Fickleness in it’s greatest form then. Perhaps it would have been wiser to give AVB the summer to mould the squad to his liking, before going against him and completely writing off this season, and failing to see that the ‘heroes’ of Chelsea in Lampard and Terry etc. greatly let themselves, the club and the manager down by behaving in a way unacceptable from a professional football player. I ask Chelsea fans this, for all your criticism of AVB, what manager do you want who could actually do a better job with the squad, and more importantly, who would actually want to take the job which has a record of a stroppy squad, fickle fans and an owner who can’t seem to accept one lacklustre season when said manager has proved his worth previously (Ancelotti was sacked a season after winning the double.)?
Let’s swiftly move from West to North London and focus on Arsenal. It’s difficult to predict what Arsenal are going to do next in terms of results and form. A number of weeks ago, they effectively crash out of the two trophies they had a slightest chance of winning (they were thrashed 4-0 by AC Milan, then convincingly beat in the FA Cup by Sunderland), recently, they crushed rivals Tottenham and gave the wasteful Liverpool a lesson in finishing at Anfield, and then proceeded to win a further four league games in a row. In a similar fashion, the minds of the fickle fans also seem to continuously change. Arsenal fans seem to be genuinely unable to decide whether Walcott is world class or should still play at Southampton, either branding him a ‘wizard of a winger’ or a simple ‘waste of space’. I can appreciate fans being frustrated with a talent such as Arshavin simply not putting enough effort in, but booing the decision of the manager who has brought the team so much greatness over the years to take off the inexperienced player Chamberlain off and replace him with Arshavin against a team as experienced as Manchester United? Just cast your minds back a few years Arsenal fans, and remember the trophies you have won, and accept the fact that all top teams slump every few years, and that you should get behind your team as it evolves rather than slating your players. It’s funny, now that Wenger seems to have, again, worked his magic this season, Arsenal fans seem to be a bit less voiced.
Of course, it is by no means just the fans of the top teams who develop this infuriating habit. Recent calls for sackings of Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock come from fans who seem unable to recall which managers developed the team and brought them up to the top division. These football fans who apparently know how to run the club better than the professional managers seemed unable to come up with a suitable replacement for either managers, and this seems to be evident especially in the Wolves case who have appointed Terry Connor, a manager who, (I think we are all in an agreement here), has little experience in the managerial role at all, let alone keeping a struggling side in the top division. It seems that Wolves were a phone call away form hiring Ian Dowie. Perhaps the fans of Bolton and Blackburn should look to this as an example and remember that there are very few managers in the footballing business who would take on the jobs at your clubs, let alone do a better job than those who are present at the moment. This is the case particularly at Blackburn, whose owners seem unable to tell a football apart from a chicken’s egg. They promised Raul. They delivered David Goodwillie. Need I say more?
So this is a cry of desperation, as this fickleness and stupidity of fans is present at every club, even the FA’s favourite Manchester United (joking). So, next time you call for a sacking, or for one of your players to be sold or released, think carefully, and try and remember the last time you criticised a player or manager, and what then happened. Unfortunately, the chances are, you were extremely wrong. So, chin up, back your team, manager and players, and give all the support you can, your team will need it.