Booing, when you think about it, is a very funny sound.
It’s the sort of sound a cow might make if it had a bad head cold.
And right now, around the more charmless corners of the Premier League, there has been quite an outbreak of snuffly Fresian behaviour.
The pale blue herd up at Middle Eastlands have been booing their little hearts out because their £350 million squad can’t rustle up a goal for love nor money. Well, actually, just for money – there’s not a single player at Man City who loves the club, although they all love their pay cheques.
Then, down the road in the pastoral idyll that is London N17, the all-white herd are just as noisily petulant because, in their case, they are feeling let down and betrayed: this was going to be THEIR YEAR. It really was – that top four finish was going to be a stepping stone to the League title, while the Champions League trophy would be scooped up along the way. The white herd, as is well known, is strongly infected with mad cow disease.
In both cases the booing is truly absurd.
Look at Citeh: Booed off at the weekend against Birmingham; booed off after drawing with Manchester United and at half time and full time when drawing with Blackburn; jeered off the pitch at half time when nil-nil at home to Wigan. I could go on but there are just too many examples to mention.
Sky Blues fans – what are you doing? Are you mad? You have spent years of your life loyally supporting a rubbish team that hasn’t looked remotely like winning anything for a generation and now, just because someone has come in and flashed his wad at you, you expect the earth?
Did you really think that all it takes to become a team of champions is to pay over-the-odds prices for greedy players looking for a mega payday, throw them all together and see what happens?
Chelsea managed it with Abramovich’s cash because (a) the league was not as competitive then and (b) Chelsea had the nucleus of a good team (which had already won silverware and competed in the Champions League before the Russian arrived).
City would probably be doing better now if they had kept the likes of Given, Ireland, Dunne, Elano and Bellamy and added some quality imports to that strong core. And yes I know Given is still there, but he’s not exactly first choice, is he?
I used to always like meeting Man City supporters because they had a great sense of cynicism and dark humour about the fortunes of their beloved club. Even their iconic anthem, Blue Moon, with it’s wistful, yearning air, reflected their understanding that they followed a club destined never to be fashionable or successful. And you know what? They hardly ever booed their boys back in the pre-lottery win days. Now look at them. Frankly it’s sad.
And then we move to our noisy neighbours, from whom we hear the sound of booing echoing over the rooftops of North London on an almost weekly basis – most recently after drawing with Sunderland last week.
Unlike poor Citeh, whose fans have had their heads turned by all that dough, the Spuds supporters have a long tradition of booing their team. They booed them under Ramos and under Jol and Santini and Pleat; they booed them under Hoddle and under Graham and Gross and Francis; they were probably booing them all the way back in 1898 under Frank Brettell, first in a long tradition of managerial failures at the mighty Cocks.
But they, too, need to ask themselves why they are booing their team this season of all seasons. They are in the champions league – a feat they will never achieve again in the lifetime of many of their fans – they are in the top seven in the table and are getting to see some decent players on a weekly basis (Bale, van der Vaart, Defoe, Modric, Kranjcar).
Don’t you Spuds realise that this is as good as it gets for you? And you’re STILL booing? Really, you deserve the club you’ve got and it deserves you.
Finally there’s Arsenal. One of the things I love about our club is that we don’t collectively boo the players off the pitch. When some sections of the crowd booed Emmanuel Eboue as he experienced a mid-game mental breakdown it caused an explosion of self-examination that continues in the blogosphere to this day.
Yes, there’ll be occasions when the team don’t exactly leave the pitch to a standing ovation, but collective booing by a large section of the Arsenal crowd is almost unheard of. (I have read reports of Arsenal being booed off at the end of games where I have been present and there was no booing – just muted applause. I can only imagine that some particularly dopey individual who likes to boo happens to sit near the press box).
Liverpool supporters hardly ever boo their team (and God knows, they have had reason to in the last few seasons). Nor do the supporters of Manchester United. Along with Arsenal, what those two clubs and their supporters have is history, and a touch of class. They know what success is, they have had high highs and low lows, but they also know their jobs as supporters.
Manchester City used to have class in a peculiar, downtrodden way, but the glint of money has stolen it from them.
The Spuds have never had it and they never will, so the mournful sound of booing from N17 will long continue to rival the chimes of Big Ben as one of the traditional sounds of Old London Town.
The England team were booed off the pitch at Wembley last night. The France team which had a poorer World Cup than ours managed to look more like a football team than we did. What is more frustrating, the coach, the players or the media feeding the expectation of the supporters?