Watching the Adebayor story with interest this week and it seems to be there is a fundamental question that bears asking. Are players expected to be immune from the emotions of a normal person and if not can we be surprised when they react to intense provocation?
Reading the reports of the game at Eastlands last Saturday there is no doubt that the bad blood between Adebayor and his former employers was apparent throughout the afternoon and exploded when the former Gunner scored, and then ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the area where the Arsenal fans were situated.
As I watched this on Match of the Day, my initial reaction was shock at Adebayor’s inflammatory antics but as the week has gone on I am not so sure. Harry Redknapps comments are quite interesting.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case let’s consider this from our perspective.
Baiting the opposition full back or goalkeeper or whoever was one of the attractions of watching Wealdstone when I was younger, trying to get a reaction and hopefully a drop in performance. Yet the ‘abuse’, such that it was, tended to be humorous, maybe sarcastic but not full of hatred and mindless vitriol which seems to be the case more often these days ( and at the Man City – Arsenal game).
I think in the post Lower Mead years we have seen plenty of examples where our crowd has turned nasty in terms of the language and abuse aimed at opposition players (even our own on some less than memorable occasions). Experience shows that this typically doesn’t do us any good either, simply making our opponents more determined to be able to have the last laugh.
And when an opponent, having been the target of abuse throughout a game scores, or celebrates at our expense perhaps making a gesture, why is it we feel so indignant that the player makes a public show of how he feels.
I understand the comments aimed at Adebayor were as offensive as they could be, aimed not only at him but his family as well. If any of us were subjected to such a constant torrent of invective wouldn’t we wish to say or do something in response?
We all know that football is a game of passion, of emotion which at times can boil over but there is a line that we all must hesitate before crossing. I think Adebayor crossed it last Saturday but not with this reaction more with his ‘stamp’ on Robin van Persie for which he has rightly copped a 3 game ban. But supporters can cross this line too – and we’ve all been guilty of it.
Just because we, as supporters pay our money, it doesn’t give us the right to do things which if we did them in the street we could be arrested for, and screaming abuse non stop at someone for 2 hours cannot be acceptable behaviour.
For me I’ve always said it, a supporters energy is much better spent getting behind his own team. Of course, certain players and occasional flashpoints will get us all up in arms. But if we do get on an opposing player’s back, don’t be surprised if they have the last laugh.