Why it has all gone quiet over there
14:45 08 November 2014
Not altogether certain I agree with most of what comes out of the mouth of Jose Mourinho, but his comments about the Chelsea crowd being quiet do ring a bell. A bell that wouldn’t get drowned out by a cacophony of noise at most grounds.
Football has changed, that much is obvious, since the days when stadiums were grounds and they were a male-dominated Saturday afternoon domain.
What we have now is a supporter-base that has changed with the game, and Mourinho’s Chelsea are one of the clubs which have led the way. Chelsea in the days of Chopper Harris, Peter Osgood and Charlie Cooke were all about the football. They had some notorious supporters who backed them to the hilt, although it could be a death defying experience watching them as opponents.
Ditto Manchester United.
But as money has poured into the game, clubs have changed and, the supporters have changed with them. We are, apparently, more socially mobile than decades ago when post-war austerity had a charm that produced shoulder to shoulder camaraderie, as well as some liberated offspring that practised Mods v Rockers confrontationalism and hooliganism.
We have myriad choices of leisure time so to try and win our buck, football clubs have put in seats, bars, restaurants and, for the more affluent, provided more than just hot pies and drinks.
In return, they have lost most of the heaving, swelling, waving raucous swathes of chanting supporters, and replaced them with the pampered woolly-pully set, who need looking after as well entertained. For their big bucks they get the treatment, and when you’re sitting comfortably in a padded seat, with a belly full of the best food, you’re unlikely to want to start singing at the top of your voice. Leisure time is important in the big bad world of 2014 – it’s frantic breakneck speed stuff all week, so why bust a gut on a Saturday afternoon?
Then there’s the chicken and egg (not the sandwiches) question: is it up to the crowd to encourage the team or the team to encourage the crowd? There is no answer. But in a game where caution is key given the risk associated with adventure, then teams are starting on the back foot. They go out not always to win, but to not lose. Cavalier football is a thing of the past, so with that gone, the entertainment value decreases, the crowd has less to sing about and all of a sudden Mourinho starts moaning.
Luke who’s talking...
I don’t usually get involved in the cross-border disputes between Norwich and Ipswich. Perhaps it’s because I’m from the Fens, and therefore don’t despise the Tractor Boys as much as many around these parts.
But I feel the need to interject after seeing that our old friend Luke Hyam was at it again this week, after his Ipswich team rose above Norwich City in the Chamionship table.
“Are we ahead of Norwich?” he tweeted. Nice and innocent, but he lacks the class of Grant Holt, who winds up Town fans without trying.Hyam hasn’t got the miles on board and he hasn’t got the class – if he could resist running his fingers through his hair during a match, he might be able to tie Holt’s shoelaces.
Until then, perhaps he ought to stick to the footballer’s cliched answer that it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
Cut out the refund talk
I feel sorry for the 500-odd fans who made the trek to Middlesbrough in the week. It’s a long old haul and when you get there, it’s nothing to write home about.
The ground is set in a depressing area and much like the team itself, it’s a ground that is either half full or half empty, depending on your mood.
For City fans it was half empty, but calls for the club to refund travelling fans is nonsense.
Not sure that the club did themselves any favours when they gave a refund last season when City were thumped 3-0 at Swansea last March. What is the trigger for a refund, and who decides if a performance was bad enough to warrant one? It’s down to the opinion of the decision-makers whether a refund is in order, and if you are a fan, you will be more likely to make a case.
Problem is, football is a game of chance. It doesn’t have a script: you take your chances and, in this case, you lost out. Annoying, but unavoidable.