Football’s modern culture is at times laughable at best, particularly when it comes to social media. Truth be told I could and perhaps should finish there, but in the interest of ranting, I won’t. It has long since been a bug bear, hard to ignore at times, and even harder to comprehend. The FIFA generation ‘szn’ or ‘ista’ accounts who clog up social media with their short-sighted opinions based on little to no football knowledge outside of computer-generated game-play, however, they aren’t the only ones sharing with the world their reactionary opinions without proper care and attention. Twitter football culture has slowly made its wretched way, unfortunately, into actual football fans, pundits, the media, ex-players, and as a result – our everyday football conscience.
Following their rivals suffering a defeat of any description, these so-called football fans take straight to their chosen social media destination and fire off abuse towards the club and in particular, the fans of that club, often before their team has played that weekend, or even following a defeat for their team. The point scoring culture has got out of hand fast. Football fans are now so busy mocking their rivals apparent failures, they have forgotten their own teams. Whether it stems from an inherent desire within us to laugh at others or simply blind stupidity – it is spreading.
It mustn’t be forgotten that at times Twitter ‘banter’ can border on abusive, directed at both fans and players, abuse of any sort in the main is abhorrent and is unjustifiable, especially given it’s often handed out by ‘troll’ accounts hiding their true identity. Truly the worst kind of cowardly abuse. But here I’m focusing on the more light-hearted, but no less mind-boggling developing fan culture.
It could be a case of short memories, fans forgetting or choosing to forget their own club’s failures in place of seeing the funny side in others. This culture has now crept into the world of top-level club’s Twitter admins. Openly mocking their Premier League rivals on the platform for failing to win at a particular stadium, stating ‘winning at so and so isn’t for everyone.” It is easy to see the funny side, can’t help but feel as though the criticism may be more warranted should their own club not be languishing in eighth themselves.
All of this comes down to where I believe social media has slowly but surely taken football fan culture. More focus is on the immediate, what is happening here and now, forgetting the bigger picture. Fans are desperate for those little wins, the one-upmanship, delving deep into the extremities of statistics by way of comparing two players in the hope their man may come out on top of attempted passes over 6 yards against their rival. There is no longer place for debate or well thought out opinion, any attempt to include facts in an argument will often be responded to with a fish on a hook emoji, the new international Twitter sign for the argument is settled.
Not only the club’s employed Twitter admin and fans are now guilty of this, but it has stemmed into pundits and particularly former players as well. Now sat in studios up and down the land with their mostly biased opinions on football, also passing on their reactionary opinion – because that’s what the people want these days. There is no time for consideration or longevity anymore, we want everything and we want it now.
A recent example of this is the reaction to player turned manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær leading Manchester United past PSG in the Champions League, undoubtedly a fantastic result, however, former United players turned pundits used the result to eulogise over the Norwegian boss, proclaiming him to be ‘at the wheel and going places’ as well as suggesting he can write his own contract for whatever length of time he sees fit, only for the club to lose the next round to Sevilla and the wheels to fall off in the coming weeks. In his defence, things have picked up again under Solskjær, however, that small sample size is an example of the reactionary culture of a lack of bigger picture thinking, more and more people within football are becoming guilty of. Recently another former United player suggested ‘nobody can go through the gears like this Manchester United team‘, the same team that sat fourth in the Premier League and got knocked out of the FA Cup and the Europa League shortly after. It simply makes you wonder why they open themselves up to criticism by making such bold, short-sighted claims, seemingly without trepidation or much thought process.
The Gerrard slip is perhaps the most poignant example of rival fans mocking an incident that had little or no positive impact on their club. When Steven Gerrard stumbled and allowed Demba Ba through on goal to open the scoring at Anfield, ultimately spelling the end of Liverpool’s 2013/14 title hopes, Chelsea fans were rightly delighted. As were Manchester City fans, as it was them who went on to lift the Premier League that year. However, despite winning that match in question, Chelsea fans may be wise to remember it was themselves who perhaps had the best opportunity to go on and win the league that year slightly earlier in the season, with nine matches remaining the Blues were clear, losses to Sunderland and a draw with Norwich followed. All in all Jose Mourinho’s side dropped 13 points from the last 27, to in actual fact, blow the league themselves that same year. The image however is still used as a stick to beat Liverpool with, despite their own failures, even by Manchester United fans, who were never near the title race that season.
All this hyping up of players and managers alike only sets them up for a fall, or yourself up for criticism when it all comes tumbling down, the days have gone of a measured and reserved point of view. Seemingly now if you aren’t actively overreacting to certain events, your points simply aren’t relevant. So much so if you tune in to sports-specific radio stations you can almost hear the desperate pleas for calls and clicks as they come out with the next controversial opinion, you know they probably don’t even believe what they are saying themselves, simply in order to get more traction on their profile and that of their employers. Controversy attracts attention after-all.
If fans put the same level of energy into their own teams as they do others, perhaps they may find some happiness and fulfillment from them as well. Instead of mocking rivals for losing in the early Saturday kick-off, only for your own team to lose later on the same day, try and be a little less reactionary and weigh up what might happen. Laughing at another club many levels above your own doesn’t seem to make much sense.
Albeit widespread, it’s still only thankfully the minority, for now at least, there are still intelligent football fans out there, you just have to look at that little bit harder to find them. It is however now unfortunately too late now to turn back the clock for the minority, the deeply ingrained reactionary football culture runs too deep they will never be able to understand the ins and outs of the game again. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we have now burdened ourselves for a time in memoriam with agenda filled opinion and poorly judged ‘banter’, so we football fans who are capable of broader thinking and measured opinion, simply have to grin and bear the rest. The only alternative would be to delete social media in search of a reprieve for the at time mind-numbing ‘nibble’ hunting, and in particular Twitter, or not watch the studios pre or post-game, but where would the fun in that be.
Perhaps it’s too much to ask in the modern-day, but, take care of your business, do not laugh at what you perceived to be the misfortune of others, then maybe the footballing gods might take care of you.