THE past couple of weeks have been a salutary tale for anyone wishing to become a football manager.
It established the first two rules of the profession.
Rule one is: if you feel that your fans are your greatest asset and that you are humbled by their unstinting support, then you should publicly say so.
Rule two is: if you feel that your fans are somewhat detrimental because of how they react when the team has underperformed, then you should suppress this thought and publicly state that they are your greatest asset and that you are humbled by their unstinting support.
I however, am not a manager. While the support for Sunderland at Bradford on Sunday was as magnificent as expected, there are always those for whom anger supplants rationality.
We are not talking here of the understandable, frustration-fuelled reaction to the manager and booing at the final whistle. We are referring to the infantile, foul-mouthed and incessant abuse launched by certain people at certain players whenever a mistake occurred; or even when it hadn’t.
It’s very simple really. No improvement was ever made in any human activity because a person who was supposed to be supporting the endeavour, screamed at a participant that they were a “f****** useless ****.” In fact this only further reduces confidence and worsens already poor performances, which is not what anyone wants.
In anticipation of a puerile response to this; no, I do not expect a rousing chorus of For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow in recognition of some of the stupendously awful play we saw against QPR and Bradford. But there is a very useful adage for this situation – if you can’t think of anything nice to say, then say nothing.
Everyone is entitled to express their opinion, especially those who pay. But there is always a certain type of football “supporter” whose treatment of players can only help to achieve the complete opposite of what we all desire.
It takes a special type of dimwit to disagree with this, but such people can be found – and heard. They usually begin by screaming “I’ve paid my money....” then proceed to burble about how much footballers earn, labouring under the misapprehension that wealth makes people less human.
The overwhelming majority do not need to be told this but; vocal encouragement, rather than invective, would be enormously helpful against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. This includes the players you don’t like. In fact, the players you don’t like tend to be the ones who require most encouragement.
Those in disagreement may now be indignantly asking: “Oh. So I’m to blame for losing games because I give tirades of abuse?”
The answer is a qualified “yes.” You are a liability.
WE have received a number of complaints about recent View From The Bridge columns.
This journalist was only trying to give supporters of this page what they wanted, so accusations of deteriorating standards can hardly be laid at my doorstep. Oh no.
Readers have been living in the past; a past when I could get straight in there and provide edification by merely referring to Harry Redknapp’s diction, Alan Pardew’s latest punch-up, or Joey Barton being so thick that he actually thinks he’s intelligent.
Those days have gone. I can’t go on trying to cheer people up by simply telling them to go and watch Sweep singing Nessun Dorma on YouTube again (apart from anything else, we’ve already done that four times this season).
Nor can we revert to type-and-rush. It may have yielded results back in the day, but now we have to consider libel laws, grammar, punctuation, split infinitives, ending sentences with a preposition and more. This is 2015.
That said, I obviously think that fans of this column are knowledgeable, sagacious, articulate, good-looking people who would never dodge their round.
They are above reproach. I love them and could eat them all with a spoon. I really could.
Any worsening relationship between your columnist and his readers is not the fault of either party. The blame for the so-called rift can only be attributed to the media.
Regrettably, I have to say that one particular publication must be singled out as the prime instigator – the Sunderland Echo.
It’s all the fault of all the muckrakers at that paper’s sports desk.
If they hadn’t printed every word I submitted to them, then there would be none of this misunderstanding and unpleasantness (they have even resorted to paying me, the scoundrels).
All we can do now is move on.