RUSS’ ABUSE BANDWAGON

05/09/17

Tom Parsley returns with his take on abusing your own with a common sense analysis of abusive bandwagons; football is a game of opinions, but what are you basing yours on?

Kicks and blows may break players bones but tweets will never hurt them. But, what about when they turn into boos from the stands?

Football is a game of opinions, so today when it's easier than ever to spout them into the ether and for wholly unfounded myths to bounce around an echo chamber gaining retweets as validation, statistically inaccurate opinions of players and their current form can spread like wildfire.

There have always been fan favourites and scapegoats and supporters have always had the right to be fickle, but what social media does is encourage totally unfounded views of players to spread unchallenged. It's no longer just those within earshot at the bar but anyone reading the #NCFC tweets that are the audience. The plus side of this is the speed of new songs spreading/flag organising etc. The obvious downside is all of a sudden a player is written off by a huge chunk of the fanbase as the reason for all NCFC's woes or heralded as a 'Legend' when in truth they're mostly just as culpable for defeats and wins as each other.

There are exceptions. Wes, Holt, Hucks at one end of the scale and Theoklitos at the other; everyone knows without debate they're the greatest/worst to pull on the shirt.

Discussing the pros and cons of selecting a player you prefer over your mate's favourite is a crucial part of what involves us in the game between fixtures. However the perceived harmlessness of spouting off about a player you don't rate on Twitter (I'm not blameless here in the past, sorry Mr McGovern), seems to have given fans the opinion they can boo and hassle players mid-game from the stands with similarly little negative comeback like online. Truth is in both cases, it doesn't help the player, team or the yellow and green cause.

A few examples of where the wider received wisdom of NCFC fans has been polluted by ill-informed twitterings:

Ivo Pinto: apparently, a legend. Okay, win record with him in the team is pretty good. However, he doesn't half get caught out a lot leading to lots of last ditch saving tackles, which earns him an ovation from the Barclay, but means giving away a lot of corners which we aren't very good at defending. He's not gifted in the air, rolls around a lot after each challenge on him, but that pales into insignificance because he has a cracking photoshop team helping him churn out chest-thumping content. He's an alright player and seemingly a lovely bloke, but his status as one of the darlings of this squad appears elevated by the Twitter generation.

Mitchell Djiks: a tidy second tier left back. But from the unrealistic clamour to sign him online this summer window, you'd think he was a world beater. While he looked competent and tough tackling, he was also part of the defence that conceded all those goals throughout the tough run that lost Alex Neil his job (belatedly). A lot of this momentum was drummed up online when really we were never going to afford him in a cost cutting off-season.

Kyle Lafferty.

Jacob Murphy: seemed to get more well wishes than stick on Twitter when he moved onto the Toon. I mention him here to make the point that fans sing 'He's one of our own', then jeer him when he shoots high and wide. That kind of behaviour helped dent his form and confidence in that difficult streak last season. Some players undoubtedly search their names on Twitter, and those not on social media will get told of the good, bad and ugly written about them by friends and family. But on the terraces it's an even more direct effect. Getting on your own players backs during a game will not help their state of mind and performance during that game, or in training the week after. We want them to be fit to wear the shirt? Support them whilst they're wearing it.

And finally, captain underpants himself.

Russell Martin: at fault for natural disasters, Bake Off being worse with Noel Fielding and Brexit (or not a hard enough Brexit, if you're that flavour of idiot).

Consider the colleagues he's had to play with; Ward, Barnett, Nelson, Whitbread, Ayala, Bennett, Turner, Bassong, Cuellar, Hooiveld(!), Klose, Zimmerman, Franke. How many stayed fans favourites? How many were bought by a bigger club because of their prowess? How many would you want back in Russ' place?

A few have been darlings for a while then suffered mistakes and incurred the wrath of the booboys. Except we didn't use to boo as much then did we? And even in the bad runs it was at the end of the game and at the team as a whole for letting us down. It's almost like Russ' greatest error has been being so loyal, the trait so often cited as missing from modern footballers, but there are no other scapegoats left.

If he's not the best of that long list, why has he been picked routinely by every manager for 7 years? He has willfully filled in across the back 3/4/5, meaning he's not had a full season in just one position for years. Also there's been no settled back four, let alone a stable centre back pairing in place since the League 1 promotion required a higher level of ability than Lord Admiral Nelson possessed. So he's having to work with a rotating door of partners, with an array of their own misgivings, hence them all moving on with no sorrow from the NCFC fans.

As recently as Millwall, most of Twitter said he was at fault for the defeat, despite the fact the highlights showed that all 4 goals came directly from mistake of another player, and in one case he nearly keeps it out from on the line until a colleague deflects it past him. Another accusation from Twitter is that his legs have gone. Well he's never been fast, his game isn't based on that.

'What about that bad back pass in the Prem that led to Liverpool getting back in the game?' I'd answer 'What about him flying up straight after his son was born and playing on no sleep, scoring an equaliser at Anfield?'

The same people online lamenting him are those that mourn the days of Lambert when we had players hungry to prove something and seemed like they really cared. Getting on the back at games of one of the players who has invested so much time into the club (when there potentially isn't a better option in the squad anyway) doesn't achieve anything but make us all look like ill-informed idiots. Booing someone who has turned in 300+ apps for your club is pathetic, especially, in light of there being no proven alternative in the squad anyway.

Whether it's Russ, Naismith or Jerome, giving them grief from the terrace will not result in anything positive. Just because you've seen something retweeted a lot does that make it accurate? Do stats and the video highlights really back up that they're the worst in their position at the club? Or is it just the current trend in your #NCFC echo chamber to pile on them?

Football is a game of opinions, what are you basing yours on?


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