The subject of social media reared its ugly head recently, when Matz Sels felt compelled to delete his Twitter account after receiving abuse following the late equaliser Villa scored, which many supporters felt he was responsible for.
Exactly how many ‘fans’ abused Matz Sels is unknown and of course whether it one or a thousand, it us unnecessary, but is this really a problem?
Naturally it is/was a great story for the media, Newcastle fans abusing their own player etc etc but is it not a bit of a story with no legs?
Probably just as long as there have been football matches, there have been fans with opinions and some going over the top about it.
I remember even when Newcastle were playing such brilliant stuff under Kevin Keegan, there was a bloke sat near us who wouldn’t stop going on about United’s dodgy defending even if we were winning 5-1.
Ask any mature Newcastle fan and they would tell you that NUFC stalwart Frank Clark would still get stick from some of his ‘fans’ as he patrolled the left side of the pitch, even though he was a local lad who’d spent half his life at the club and won the Fairs Cup.
No doubt there will be similar tales from the Milburn era about certain players.
The point is that nothing has really changed, just the way the abuse is delivered.
The same teenage lads who used to be shouting abuse from the Leazes and Gallowgate terraces after a few shandies, are the same ones who become courageous keyboard/keypad warriors, able to deliver abuse direct onto a player’s Twitter timeline.
It really is pointless for current players to have these social media accounts that supporters can interact with.
It is a bit of a myth anyway that you are interacting with the actual player on many occasions, with probably the majority of the top performers paying a company/individual to ‘manage’ their account.
The question also is what is the point, apart from increasing a player’s already over inflated sense of their own worth, by having tens/hundreds of thousands of followers.
It is simply an illusion in most cases that it gives supporters a chance to get closer to their idols in this modern era of such a gap between footballers and the public, particularly when it comes to money.
Back in the day Newcastle players lived relatively normal lives, earning a few more quid but generally living on a relatively normal estate alongside ordinary supporters. Every day they would mix with fans in local shops, pubs etc rather than living in high end areas where only other rich people tend to live.
Back in those days if players were going through a rough patch they ran the risk of getting an earful even just popping out for a pint or a newspaper.
Compared to that, are today’s cosseted players really upset when some cowardly anonymous knacker posts a message saying they are crap, or using the more over the top words which sadly are just the norm in today’s social media driven world?
Anything that proves even the smallest distraction from what they’re paid to do, players should look to remove from the equation.