By Tony Attwood
The notion of a club’s fans booing and jeering their own side, their manager, the board and anyone else locally they don’t like was probably initiated by the fans of Woolwich Arsenal in the 19th century. (For more, see The Crowd at Woowlich Arsenal)
It has long since continued at Arsenal, getting an extra boost under Herbert Chapman following the the defeat by Walsall and again by the AAA in recent years.
I have dealt with this many times before – but we haven’t touched much on the way the phenomenon has been exported to other clubs.
A group of Chelsea fans have apparently created what they call a “toxic atmosphere” at Stamford Bridge, and things have not improved after a 2-0 Capital One Cup semi-final defeat by Swansea City. (Interesting that it was the same score at the Emirates, only we didn’t spend billions getting to that stage). As is now part of the ritual, Fernando Torres was booed.
Chelsea, of course, always want to outdo Arsenal, so they started the match by booing their chairman Bruce Buck before they got down to the real business of booing Rafa Benitez, mostly it seems because he wouldn’t give Lampard a new deal. I am not sure if anyone booed Benitez for not giving Ashley Cole a new contract – not really worth it I suppose.
Of course at Arsenal, if you join Fanshare or if you have enough spare dosh to buy a full bloodied single share you can have a bash at the management at the AGM. Bit difficult to do that at Chelsea.
But anything Chelsea can do, Real Madrid can do better. There we have such abuse of José Mourinho that the awfully nice Cristiano Ronaldo told (yes told not asked) the Real Mad fans to stop it. In a highly original speech he said the fans must get behind the team and the manager. Well, perhaps not highly original.
Here again a player is to blame. Mourinho dropped Casillas and that is enough for wholesale civil war in Spain. (Not literally of course).
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But they do surveys in Spain in a way that the AAA can’t do, and found that around 60% of Real Mad members believe Mourinho has “had a negative impact on the club’s image”. Mind you over half of the fans in the survey want him to stay.
Of course you can’t keep a Redknapp out of a discussion like this and he is quoted recently as saying “you would have to be a real dope to mess it up” (at Chelsea). Arry has apparently never spoken to Villa Boas now at Tottenham, who have lost (or perhaps thrown away) Adebayor who was last seen heading for Africa. I wonder if Tottenham fans are booing anyone because of that.
So who goes where in the big merry-go-round of managers? Pep Guardiola to Chelsea is one idea. Benítez to Real Mad – and we know that because the “strange one” (as Benítez is known in some quarters) said at Christmas, “I know things but I think I shouldn’t say…”
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches