Blogging: it’ll thrive as long as you want it to

With the nominations for the football blogging awards starting up again, it seems an appropriate time to explore how relevant blogging is currently and whether it can survive in a world where people have increasingly short attention spans.

Now, where blogs and analysis once truly thrived on Twitter; the vine and the meme has eclipsed them. The old idea that a picture paints a thousand words certainly seems to be true when it comes to what appeals to people online.

Why bother writing a two thousand word analysis on Manchester United’s performance yesterday, when you could just tweet a picture of David Moyes grinning like a Cheshire Cat instead?

However, should we accept such simplicity? What was once amusing, is becoming mundane, and there really is a limit to how many times you can see the same meme being passed around by the relentless spoof accounts.

Now call me old fashioned, and a snobbish arse if you like, but after a certain age you shouldn’t need a book to have pictures anymore. So, on that front the meme cannot replace written analysis, perhaps merely be an added supplement. All it truly offers is a maximum reward for minimum input. It tells us absolutely nothing, and surely cannot be that funny.

However, I appreciate that I’m in the minority on this one. My blog posts are read by a handful of people, whereas the picture of a baby clenching his fist with the words “David Moyes right now” attached will be seen by millions.

So, how do you compete? The answer is you don’t bother, you just attempt to stick to what you do and hope people appreciate what you’re doing sooner or later. But, you’ll need some help.

The reality is that you aren’t really competing with Memes anyway. It’s just harder to get noticed with them around, clogging up everyone’s timeline.

What we all can do, is support one another by spreading the word of the blogger. If you read something you enjoy, tell the world about it, and help to keep blogging alive. Constantly take a chance on a new blog. Take a few minutes out to see if you enjoy their output. If you do, then tell them.

As long as people want to read different opinions on any range of topics, blogging will be relevant. Analysis or insight that is unencumbered by deadlines, editors, and political agendas will always be appreciated by readers.

The power of the reader, and being appreciated by fellow bloggers can and will help a blog prosper. Regular retweets and sales pitches by fellow bloggers will be worth far more to you than a one off retweet from Henry Winter or Robbie Savage, so value the reader with 5 followers as much as you value the one with 5 million. Spread the word about others, and they’ll do the same for you.

Ultimately, if what you write is worth reading then you’ll find an audience. Blogging can, and will survive, as long as people continue to read them, and pass them on to others.

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What a fan wants

There was once an advert for Kinder surprise, where an irritating little child was asked what they wanted by their obliging parent. “I want something exciting, and a toy, and some chocolate”

The parent ultimately fobs the child off with a kinder egg. “Yeah thanks, but where’s what I asked for? I don’t want a thin chocolate egg and small toy terrapin”

Well, much like this precocious little shit, football fans have become increasingly demanding. Not only do they want everything, they want it now.

When a club makes a new signing, it’s immediately followed by a number of fans saying “yeah yeah, well done on signing him but where’s the defensive midfielder we need, in fact it’s a fucking joke. #wengerout”

It has become the norm now for fans to demand everything they want on every occasion. And if they don’t get it they hide their disgust about as well as Imelda Marcos gazing upon some cheap primark trainers.

However, it’s not the fault of these fans, as they’ve grown up with a different style of football. Managers are sacked the second the fans begin to boo, players come and go, and are worth a million after a good game, and 20 million after 10.

Ultimately fans are demanding because clubs charge them so much just to watch a game. Fans aren’t really fans as much as they’re consumers, and people now want value for money.

There’s not much room for patience or romance in football. Fans want everything right now, and will not wait. It’s no longer a game where you can enjoy the moment; it’s a game where you only wonder: what now?

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