Football fans, myself included, are an odd bunch. Even those with the greatest of academic minds fall into the gutter when the game with the spherical ball is discussed. I know of a number of very well educated, highly intelligent and successful types on social media who speak with incredible eloquence on subjects such as politics, finance, business, medicine and the law who, without fail, regress to foul mouthed neanderthals when the topic of conversation turns to the beautiful game or their own team of preference is playing.
The most asinine and puerile jokes about rivals are furiously rt’d on Twitter and ‘lolz’ become infectious. Football, for some reason turns us into tetchy, dim teenagers. In all of the above contemporary topics there are many shades of grey to debate and explore, but in football there is only black or white, love or hate. Neither is invoked remotely rationally and all is clouded by the rose tinted spectacles worn daily. Love in football is very blind indeed, and it is most certainly dripping with hypocrisy.
Take the Manchester United footballers David De Gea, Javier Hernandez and Jonny Evans. The former is possibly the world’s best goalkeeper at this moment in time and after a difficult start at the club rapidly developed into a world class talent. In his second campaign he helped United to win their twentieth league title and the following year, under David Moyes, at times carried an awful side on his back. Without him his club wouldn’t even have finished seventh. He was duly voted the club’s player of the year, an accolade he is almost certain to win again this campaign. Without him Champions League football would not have been likely at Old Trafford next season. He is a well liked player in the dressing room, says very little publicly and is always respectful of the club. He has a year left on his contract and one report suggested on Monday night that a deal had been agreed for him to move to Real Madrid in the summer. He is Spanish, from Madrid and his family and long term girlfriend live there. It is the biggest club in the world, the most glamorous and has one of the best teams in the planet. They need a new goalkeeper. If De Gea doesn’t go now then they are likely to buy another young stopper and his chance may be lost. It’s not hard to understand why he is at the very least giving it some serious contemplation. Footballers, contrary to the view observable through those specs we wear, are human beings too. The vast majority do not support the club they play for, although affection may grow for it and it’s fans.
The news that De Gea might be leaving brought down a torrent of rage on him on social media. He was dubbed a ‘snake’, a ‘traitor’, a ‘c*nt’, who if he didn’t want to be in Manchester could ‘fuck off so we can find someone who does.’ Alternatively he should be ‘put in the reserves and left to rot’. Quite apart from the fact that the news may not even have been true, the mob had decided. More rational thinkers opined that he should be made to honour the final year of his contract, a perfectly reasonable proposition but not one the money men are likely to accede to at United. Many were furious that the club were losing another player to ‘them’, Real Madrid, although of those who have made the switch to the club from United only Ronaldo did not leave at the Fergie’s behest. The Scot was all too happy to pack the bags of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Gabriel Heinze and David Beckham.
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