So Matz Sels deleted his twitter account…it was all very dramatic, really.
Whilst utterly trivial, the headline point masks a very real and troubling tendency by fans (of all stripes, it should be noted) and of social media communities more generally, to address any difference of opinion, or frustrations at things gone awry, in vitriolic and often abusive terms.
Was Sels’ questionable positioning and iffy early season performances really justification for wishing him a broken leg, as one particularly nasty comment had it?
Those Newcastle fans abusing Matz Sels or hassling other players do need to have a real think about what they’re saying to these young guys playing their hearts out each weekend. It’s one thing to be scarred by recent history, frustrated by any setbacks, and it is absolutely justified to allow those experiences to colour your discourse on the subject of the team’s performances. However, as in all aspects of life, there is one solid rule more people should adhere to: don’t be a dick.
The commentator for yesterday’s match noted when talking about Villa, that at this stage of the season, you can’t win The Championship but you can get yourself left behind. It is very early in the season but we are right in the mix and in a really strong position considering that many of these players are also still adjusting to life under the Newcastle microscope.
Things will take time to gel properly so regardless of whether you think Darlow is better than Sels, or that Mitro, Armstrong or Gayle is the true heir apparent to Shearer, why not try focusing on the positives? Defensively we are more solid than at any time in recent history; Gouffran, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, and Ritchie were excellent for long periods yesterday; most importantly, we’ve got Rafa, Rafa Benitez!
Now, this is not at all to say that some of the criticisms aren’t justified; we do need to close games out better and we have been wasteful in front of goal on more than one occasion already this season. Sels has also been found out on a few occasions, Dummett still looks out of place and ponderous at left-back, and Gayle needs to start putting more chances away.
One of the most important aspects of being a Newcastle supporter for me, has always been about the prevalence of differing opinions offered on the team’s progress. Sometimes things have been worse than others, sometimes the desire for things to get better feels more urgent, but always, as fans desperate to see a better day, we’ve come at it from a point of being constructive, of offering some ideas of what we’d do.
That’s why places like The Mag are so important and should be used to vent frustrations with the team. If you’re frustrated, why are you frustrated? If you’re pi**ed off with a specific player, explain why. Your fellow fans are genuinely interested.
Ultimately, one player deleting his twitter account isn’t going to stop us getting promoted – but it does play into a narrative of entitled football fans and anonymous social media warriors who feel that they deserve a piece of ‘their’ public figures.
Newcastle fans should be better than that, so perhaps in future – as my old nan used to say – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
And remember, don’t be a dick.
You can follow the author on Twitter @Rich_pye