Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Game Is Still Managing to Surprise Us

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Game Is Still Managing to Surprise Us

Article excerpt

2 012 has been a manic, mad year for football, so there is something fitting about the crazy way it has ended. Henning Berg is sacked at Blackburn after 50-odd days, Sean O'Driscoll bites the dust at Forest following a 4-2 win to be replaced by Alex McLeish, while at Aston Villa they sing support for Paul Lambert after his team ships 12 goals in two games.

Football is changing, and some of the old myths need to be tossed out with the leftover turkey.

Football fans are meant to be the irrational, impatient and downright unreasonable ones, but this year has illustrated that is no longer the case.

At Sunderland, they sang heartily for Martin O'Neill while the team was performing woefully, while Alan Pardew's toils at Newcastle have not been accompanied by calls for the sack.

Outside the North East, Chelsea fans reacted with outrage when Roberto Di Matteo's underperforming side cost him his job.

The Blues are now winning under his replacement Rafa Benitez and that is presumed to have answered those pesky supporters.

The truth is it hasn't - they still want their club back and victories won't do that for them.

Fans all over the country are demanding different things from their manager now. Lambert gets the support of the Holte End at Villa Park because he has created a team which represents the fans' desire for hardworking, committed players who are willing to give their all.

They might not win every week - indeed they might lose 8-0 on occasion - but supporters have an idea of the bigger picture.

They know the top four have disappeared over the horizon, so the least they want is a squad of young, hungry stars who share their pain when things don't go for them.

What they don't want is what is unfolding at Loftus Road.

QPR, man for man, probably have more internationals and a bigger wage bill than virtually any team in the Premier League's bottom half, but it is a squad stuffed full of mercenaries chasing a quick buck.

Supporters know it. They hated the Mark Hughes project, they resent those overpaid recruits in blue-andwhite hoops and they demanded a change because the least they deserved was a bit of respect from those wearing the badge. …

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