CRAIG NELSON: Fans who pay their money have every right to boo
11:00pm Wednesday 20th March 2013 in Sport
IT seems we are being given more and more advice about what is and is not an acceptable form of criticism at matches.
Dougie Freedman went on record during the darker days of Wanderers’ season saying booing after games was okay, but during was counter-productive.
That’s a fair point I suppose – that we should see how the game finishes before passing judgement.
I wonder how many sneering Manchester United fans have been made to look silly over the years by their team’s powers of recovery?
Then you have Martin O’Neill who praised the Sunderland supporters for booing his players after their 1-1 draw with Norwich, reckoning the display was so poor they deserved a kick up the backside.
Rafael Benitez may not agree, though. His appointment as Roberto Di Matteo’s replacement at Stamford Bridge has been met with a startling level of derision from fans whose campaign to undermine him has included a host of abusive banners at every game, and even a round of applause on the 16th minute to mark Di Matteo’s former Blues shirt number.
Benitez kept his calm until fans continued their tirade during an FA Cup victory at Middlesbrough, warning their behaviour would cost Chelsea the chance of winning anything this season.
Whether or not players are adversely affected by such things during matches is unproven, but it stands to reason if teams can be cheered on to victory they can be just as easily jeered on to defeat.
That poses a real quandary for the football fan.
You pay enough money to watch your team – how you show your support, within legal boundaries, should surely be up to you.
Yet no-one wants their side to lose, unless, that is, you have a vested interest in getting the manager out and starting afresh.
That was the clear message at Gigg Lane at the weekend, when cash-strapped Bury lost a crunch relegation battle.
Fans voiced their anger with chants of “Blackwell out” during the closing stages.
Beleaguered boss Kevin Blackwell countered, saying he was working with his hands tied under a transfer embargo, and appealed to supporters to “wake up and smell the coffee”.
He also implored them to show some “common sense” in last night’s match at home to Stevenage.
Common sense in football? Now that, I’m afraid, is taking it a little bit too far.