Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fans Pay through the Nose So Are Entitled to Protest

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fans Pay through the Nose So Are Entitled to Protest

Article excerpt


AT BORUSSIA Dortmund's famous Westfalenstadion, supporters in the end of the ground referred to as the 'Yellow Wall' unfurled a banner.

"Und wenn du fallst - bin ich bei dir!" Rough translation: "If you fall, so do we." With Jurgen Klopp's black and yellows marooned at the bottom of the Bundesliga this season, it was a message of support for the manager, players and the club from its public. It was - make no mistake about it - a nice touch.

Inevitably, though, it brought comparisons with English football. It is, we are told, akin to the Wild West on the terraces at the moment with trigger-happy supporters ready to put their manager in the crosshairs at the first sign of trouble.

Exhibit A was the way a small number of Arsenal supporters barracked Arsene Wenger on the platform of Stoke station, an hour or so after the Gunners had lost to the Potters to fall further behind the Premier League's chasing pack. Exhibit B was a Leicester fan subjecting Nigel Pearson - who took the club into the Premier League last season - to such verbal abuse that the former Newcastle assistant boss snapped and gave him some back.

Exhibit C, in some quarters, was the way Alan Pardew (pictured right) was criticised earlier in the season. A personal feeling is that the online Pardew Out campaign - very quiet recently - has consistently been misunderstood outside the region. It was an attempt to bring cool, hard rationale to the reasons for wanting the manager out when he didn't have the answers - reinventing it as whipping up a foaming, seething hate mob just isn't accurate. But alas, compared to Germany we still look impatient and ungrateful don't we? The ever-engaging Gary Lineker condemned Wenger's critics online, while the League Managers' Association, never one to miss a gravy train to hop on, will no doubt be encouraging its members to huddle closer in solidarity. An interesting column in the Telegraph made the point that managers are now "punchbags" for supporters.

Yet I am troubled by the rush to neatly categorise this voluble discontent as proof that fans have gone too far.

It feels to me like the Premier League world wants to have its cake and eat it. …

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