The stands are full of fear

If you glanced at Twitter yesterday at around 5.30pm you would’ve seen countless tweets criticising the lack of atmosphere on Liverpool’s Kop. “Where’s the famous atmosphere?” was the general message, coming from fans happy to take pot shots at rival fans.

However, in recent years, with the rise of the lightning fast opinions of twitter, and more significantly the vast injection of obscene amounts of money invested in football has seemed to lead to a gradual decay of a decent match day atmosphere at many top level clubs.

Fans no longer focus on the game, with their mind elsewhere during the game. One goal isn’t enough to settle nerves, and leads to fans trembling and becoming anxious neurotics. They’re not bothered about anything but the result, and the match day experience becomes irrelevant. Most fans of big clubs seem to have become that Arsenal fan who went crazy at his computer screen when they threw away a 4 goal lead at Newcastle.

The thought process of football fans, at an event they should enjoy is comparable to that of someone about to take a driving test. Torture with a positive result being the only tonic to ease their tortured soul.

The overwhelming negativity that impacts so many grounds is creating tense, hollow atmospheres. Everyone is too busy biting their nails to cheer or clap. And these nerves translate onto the pitch, with a misplaced pass leading to thousands having collective nervous breakdowns, and players appearing to be fearful and bogged down under the weight of expectations.

The media play their part in creating this negativity, with horrendous over the top reactions to single loses and individual poor performances.

The enormous importance put on obtaining a top 4 Premier League place, has sent fans crazy too. “If we don’t reach the top 4 the club won’t make quite as much money this year, just think of our end of year shareholders meeting”

The reality is if you finish anywhere in the Premier League you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams, so a top four finish is not the be all and end all anyway.

Step by step the insane levels of expectation, entitlement and the short sighted nature of football fans will mean that atmospheres dwindle further as every nervous fan is too busy clutching a rabbit foot in both hands to even watch the game.

All perspective has been lost, fans are more interested in the end destination rather than the journey, and anything other than a win isn’t enough to satisfy the modern football fan.

My worry is that football fans don’t enjoy the game anymore, and are solely concerned with success. Full of fear, afraid of what fans of other clubs think, and more neurotic than Woody Allen, the modern fan needs to realise that they’re supporting one of the leagues most successful teams, and should probably enjoy it a bit more.

Eating a slice of humble pie.

When Mark Robins left Huddersfield Town after the first game of the season, I was at first hugely critical of the club. Before the facts emerged, I was embarrassed that we’d sacked our manager after one game.

I was also highly critical of our transfer dealings. The drawn out Adam Clayton saga, the lack of a star player, and the failure to address our lack of on field leaders.

After Robins’ departure I was left irritated by how long it took us to find a replacement, how we seemed to be stumbling blindly hoping to somehow find a suitable candidate.

In each of these cases I was eventually shown to be wrong, that my perceptions and the reality of what the club were doing were two very different things.

It might have taken longer than I hoped, it might not have been perfect, but I need to learn to be patient, as ultimately the club delivered what I hoped it would.

Football fans are emotionally charged, and often make snap judgements. It’s frustrating at times when it seems that the club aren’t addressing clear issues, and I often let that frustration show.

Full credit to Huddersfield Town for proving me wrong, and I’m more than happy for that to have been the case.

The club have moved forward hugely in the last few years, and it’s reassuring to know that things are being looked after, even if I don’t always realise how good we have things right now.

That was a huge slice of humble pie, and quite frankly I’m rather full. Good manager, good signings, and renewed optimism. The season starts now

Football: Yesterday’s values, at tomorrow’s prices

When the story of Malky Mackay and Iain Moody’s texts broke the other night, the football world was shocked. It’s the only part of the world that was, however.

This wasn’t because we all knew that Mackay was an unpleasant chap, most would assume that he was a rather dull man, but because we all know football is so far behind the rest of the world. So far in fact that Crystal Palace are considering offering their managers job to promising up and comer: the Lindow Peat bog man.

Football might be slightly more advanced than golf, but only fractionally. It’s still an old boys network, totally disconnected from society.

Foreign footballers are still treated with suspicion, racism is still a huge issue, and homosexuality is something that football really isn’t close to understanding or welcoming.

Above them all is sexism, which is the only one not buried away behind the curtain of this men’s club. It’s our front and centre, serving drinks.

Gabby Logan cannot host Match of the Day without an outpouring of sexist bile on twitter. Richard Scudamore’s emails were found to be sexist and he didn’t even lose any sleep, let alone his job. Chelsea’s club doctor is a talking point, not because of her credentials, but because she’s an attractive female.

I’ve not even touched upon the two chaps smoking cigars and sitting on leather Chesterfield’s Mr Keys and Mr Gray.

The reality is though that football is decades behind the times, and it will never catch up because it doesn’t want to change. It’s happy as it is, and makes loads of money so it’s not bothered.

It’s got slightly better at hiding it’s deep flaws, but when asked to do something about it football responds with all the assertiveness of a timid man confronting some difficult teens who are sat on his car.

Football is basically your uncle who makes everyone uncomfortable with his casual racism and ruins the meal by calling his nephew a “poof” for drinking lager. Then spends the rest of the evening going “what? What did I say?”

The only way in which football is ahead of it’s time is the prices which will still be more than high enough when we reach the next Millennium.

Blindly hoping to find

When Mark Robins walked away from Huddersfield Town, messages immediately started appearing from fans saying who they wanted to come in and take over.

Football fans always start off as optimists, but reality brings pessimism. Once the boss you want, a Champions League winning manager, has been ruled out, you’re left with a list of candidates who leave you pulling your hair out. It stops being about the best candidate, and starts being about who is the best of a bad bunch?

So, who will Huddersfield choose? I have no insider knowledge so this isn’t going to be a huge scoop. If you look at history however, I’d rule out a big name.

Lee Clark was assistant at Norwich, Simon Grayson had been fired by Leeds, and Mark Robins was at Coventry.

Doesn’t tell you a lot, but all are also relatively young managers, and in the case of Grayson and Robins, had a reasonable record at similarly sized clubs.

None of them were particularly huge characters. Clark had his moments, and was a passionate guy, but had similar qualities and similar faults to both Grayson and Robins.

All three, in my view, were similar managers. Clark seemed the only one who wanted to really leave a stamp on the club, however.

I would not be surprised, considering our previous hiring policy, if we went down a similar route again. The manager will almost certainly be young, either a young up and comer or a manager who has done ok at a similar sized club.

So, with that in mind I think the club will end up taking a punt on a manager. They’ll look honestly, and interview thoroughly, but ultimately I suspect whoever is chosen will not be a name to get excited about.

It’ll be someone the club can control, and someone who buys into what the club want to achieve. A restricted budget and high expectations from an average squad is likely to put off big name managers.

We still hope, rather than expect, that this time we’ll get the right manager.

The desperate search for continuity

It was over for Mark Robins when we played Leicester last season. As the game ended the majority of fans shuffled out of the stadium rather than stay to witness a lap of honour.

What had started as an admirable project: to get the team to play football properly, had stalled drastically. Obvious failings weren’t being addressed, and the whole squad looked like they were happy to see the season out.

If there was a time for Robins to go, then that was probably it as things were petering out and the spark was lacking.

It seems that he decided to leave the club last night, as didn’t feel he could achieve his goals in the way set out by the board. I respect him for that decision but it was a realisation he should have come to in May, and leaving now could leave the club in a real mess.

Although it seems the decision was Robins’, I’m sure he was aware that he was a few bad results away from the sack so decided to jump first.

Regardless of reasons, Huddersfield Town are again on the desperate hunt for a manager who can deliver a lot on a limited budget. Unfortunately, judging on the recent past it won’t be too long until we’re searching for his replacement either.

The club seem to be giving managers just over a season, and don’t seem keen to back a manager when trouble inevitably comes along. For a team with a low budget compared to the majority of the division, there will be rough days and we’ll almost certainly lose more games than we win.

We’re underdogs in this league, and even when we’ve won games the margins were often fine. To get trigger happy in this division after a bad patch is a risky strategy for a board to employ.

Whoever comes in is going to have to achieve a lot without significant investment. He’s also going to have to contend with a hands on board, whose intentions are honest but frequently misguided.

The club have to recover from an average transfer window, and a now possibly wasted preseason. Once again it’s important that the club make the right appointment, and once again it seems unlikely that they will.

No unnecessary finger pointing, but it’s time for the club to redress it’s expectations, realise it’s limitations, and learn to fight through the tough moments without throwing our toys out of the pram.

The only way is up!

A twitter quiz: what do you do when?

Ever wondered what to do when someone on twitter says something less than complimentary about your football club on twitter? Are you responding in the right way? This quiz will tell you if you’re responding in the right way.

1. A player from the opposition goes down injured. What do you tweet?
A) oh dear, I hope he’s ok.
B) bet he’s faking it, typical Arsenal always bloody cheating. That bone poking through the socks is clearly fake.
C) I hope the cocky wankers career is over. That’ll learn him for attempting to beat our defender. Die injured player die.

2. Someone criticises your summer transfer deals. What do you tweet?
A) we should wait and see, as some players might surprise you.
B) yeah, whatever. In 2002 you signed someone shit, so you can hardly talk.
C) You fucking homo cunt. Go back to your own country and die. #ynwa

3. Your best player is linked with a move elsewhere. What do you tweet?
A) Please don’t leave @bestplayer we love you.
B) if he goes I’ll just have to burn my shirt, and his house down.
C) Fucking dickstain, no fucking loyalty. Can’t trust fucking foreigners.

4. Someone says you’ll get relegated this season. What do you tweet?
A) I guess we could. Probably could have bought better and the manager isn’t very inspiring.
B) you’ll get relegated, and your mum is ugly.
C) there’s a car park in Leicester, meet me there and I’ll kick your head in you fucking shit stain.

5. There’s a gif doing the rounds that makes your manager look like a fool.
A) haha, how amusing. Having your own picture on your wall is silly.
B) grow up, you fucking virgins. Get back to your parents basements (cellar?)
C) how fucking dare you, he’s a genius. What have you achieved? He’s the son of Shankly you cunt.

So how did you do?
Mostly a) you’re far too rational.
Mostly b) you probably need to get a little bit angry.
Mostly c) welcome to twitter, we’ve been waiting for you

Why I’m fully thawed, and ready to support England

In 1998 I can vividly remember watching England vs Argentina with my whole family.

My dad and I were big football fans, but my mum couldn’t identify a football let alone a footballer, my sister positively hated the game, and my brother, who was 8 at the time preferred Boglins.

So, it was strange to sit and watch the game surrounded by them all. We celebrated, despaired and ultimately commiserated with one another when it was all over.

And once it was over, it was well and truly over. It’s never happened again. We have never watched a game together as a family, and also since that day the exploits of England’s football team have never really concerned me.

I’d grown out of football by Euro 2000, only rediscovering a love/hate for it when I watched Huddersfield relegated from Division one.

World Cup 2002 was on too early in the morning to really be enjoyed together, and despite being just 16 by then I was already watching games in the pubs with friends. Our pathetic attempts at beards and smart clothing (and most importantly a very lax policy on serving anybody under age in our locals) ensuring we got served. Watching with my family was a no go at that age.

The 2004 and 2006 tournaments seem to blend in to one another, although seeing Wayne Rooney explode on to the scene in 2004 suddenly reignited my passion, but it was fading hours later when he went off injured against Portugal.

I simply wasn’t cool enough to truly embrace a European Championship without England, so although I watched a lot of games in 2008, I wasn’t overly invested.

2010 was an atrocious World Cup, for England but also just in general. And 2012 we just went along for a ride, with so little expectation and results to match.

However, suddenly this all feels different. It doesn’t feel like “we’re going to win this” but suddenly it feels like I’m starting to truly care about the national side for the first time since 1998.

I’m not a disinterested, trying desperately hard to be cool teen anymore. I’m also no longer a faux intellectual student, who’d prefer to be at Glastonbury rather than watching football anymore either. That latter idea now sounds like hell on earth.

It’s sixteen years on, and what I see is an England team with likeable players, a genuinely decent and pleasant manager, and suitably realistic expectations.

Winning or losing doesn’t really matter to me, but now I’ve stopped pretending to be cool I’ve thawed towards the England team, and I’m ready to support like a 12 year old kid again. Might even invite the family over.

Come on England