Often in sport ‘the media’ get chastised for being too quick to judge, or biased in their views. However, this is often less more rational and more balanced that the views of many supporters/fans who regularly attend, and the number many times that number who do not.
There have already been a number of examples of these views this Autumn, reflecting the fickle nature of ‘supporters’. Probably the starkest example of this so far is that of Arsenal Football Club manger Arsène Wenger. Prior to the start of the season Wenger was under pressure by the ‘fans’ and media alike for his lack of activity in the transfer window. This became even more frenzied following Arsenal’s opening day of the season defeat at home to Aston Villa (who had beaten Arsenal just twice in the previous 19 games with Arsenal at home). Significant sections of Arsenal fans even started calling for Wenger to be sacked as the Arsenal manager. This included the very local Piers Morgan who openly questioned Wenger’s approach and even his continued tenure at Arsenal. The case of Morgan is particularly interesting as his ‘voice’ carries much greater impact than the average disgruntled fan in their local pub. Morgan is currently followed by 3.75 million people on Twitter making his views and comments potentially more impactful. However since losing to Aston Villa Arsenal have won 10 and drawn 1 in all competitions and currently sit top of the English Premier League.
Talking of Twitter it was with interest that I watched the comments appearing during the recent Sunderland FC Vs Manchester United FC. United are currently in a transition period between the highly successful recently retired manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, and the new manager David Moyes. With United conceding a goal early to Sunderland (who are bottom of the league) the knives came out for Moyes on Twitter. This did soften a little where two second-half goals turned the game around. But it is interesting how Manchester United fans appear to have lost touch with the reality of football. They were spoilt by Ferguson, who over an unprecedented 25-year tenure won and challenged for all trophies on a regular basis. However, in the early years even Ferguson struggled as he moulded his team.
There is increasingly in sport a lack of recognition by fans about what is required to build a successful team. Players don’t instinctively just click most of the time, and it takes time for the manager/head coach to really embed their vision for the team. But in a world where instant gratification is king we expect our sports teams and performers to ‘just win’. So calling all sports fans out there, lets be ‘supporters’ rather than ‘FANatics’, keep perspective and above all try to do our part in helping our teams to win. AFC Bournemouth on Saturday came back from two goals down against Millwall FC to win the game 5-2. The Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe cited the positivity and encouragement from the crowd as a crucial factor in his team turning the game around – maybe this is a vision of what the future could be like!