Fickle fans fume on social media

2014-11-01 00:00

WATCHING what people say on social media before, during and after football matches can be as frustrating as it is entertaining.

The comments section on for the local matches is often worth a laugh, before said comments inevitably deteriorate into a senseless war of words between Chiefs and

Pirates supporters.

The story could be about Maritzburg United and AmaZulu both being in the market for a Platinum Stars striker, but by the end of the comments thread you will be reading about why Valdimir Vermezovic is the worst Pirates coach in recent history. That is just the nature of the PSL.

The English Premier League comments are generally more interesting. On Saturdays and Sundays, Facebook news feeds across the world are flooded with status updates of celebration and despair. I came across an interesting rant after the Chelsea-United game last weekend.

A friend of mine, always shameless in his allegiance to the Blues, was quite clearly peeved. His side had played poorly, he acknowledged, and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford was thus a fair result. He did point out that Chelsea might have been awarded a penalty for a couple of wrestling moves deployed by United’s centre backs — again, fair comment.

But what really seemed to upset him more than anything, strangely enough, was the over-the-top Manchester United celebration that followed Robin van Persie’s late equaliser. United under Ferguson, or something in that tone, were never a side that celebrated draws.

He may be right, but we must not kid ourselves by even comparing this United side to any that operated under Ferguson. United are no longer the powerhouse of English football — Chelsea and Manchester City are. Would Everton celebrate a last-minute equaliser against Chelsea? Would Liverpool? Would Southampton? Yes, and why shouldn’t Manchester United?

Because the hard truth for United fans to accept is that these are the clubs with whom they are doing battle at the moment. Last weekend’s Chelsea draw was a lucky one for United. While they were much improved, they are still clearly a step behind Chelsea and City, despite their newly acquired group of Gaalacticos.

A daunting Manchester derby awaits Louis van Gaal this weekend, with City wounded. It is a crucially important game for United. They will either demonstrate that they have turned the corner and are once again able to exchange blows with the biggest and the best, or they will reaffirm the concerns that supporters have that more despair awaits.

Speaking of supporters, it seems like there aren’t as many in United colours these days. There was a time when bars and restaurants were packed with Red Devils, all clad in their jerseys with “Rooney”, “Ronaldo” or “Van Persie” painted across the back.

Now it is not uncommon for United supporters to be in the minority when watching football in public. The fickle nature of the South African English football fan demonstrated in all its glory. Who knows, maybe they’re all at home, showing their support on Facebook and Twitter instead.

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