One of the most ridiculous events in my recent memory of the Premier League took place a couple of weeks ago. The venue was St Andrews and Birmingham had just been beaten by Everton, ending a unbeaten run at home that had lasted for a calendar year. Incredulously, some fans saw fit too boo their players off the field. It was unnecessary, unhelpful and totally uncalled for and the Birmingham players and their manager Alex McLeish can feel rightly aggrieved by the situation. I don’t agree with Mark Lawrenson too often but I think his assessment of the boos at St Andrews on Match of the Day was spot on, he stated that the supporters who booed needed to “get a life”. Here here. But does this experience show that some fans are never really satisfied?
Booing at football grounds of the fans’ own team is not unique to Birmingham, it happens nationwide and it happens most weekends. Whilst I’m unsure over the merits of booing, I can see why in some situations when fans who have paid their hard earned money to attend the game only to see an awful performance, boo their team. If a supporter has purchased his ticket, he has a right to have a go at his team, and it is sorely tempting at certain moments for all football fans. Booing is understandable when a team has consistently performed badly or don’t look like they are trying, but on some occassions it is completely unjustifiable, like it was at St Andrews.
Birmingham have had a fantastic time under Alex McLeish in the past couple of years. After guiding them to an instant return to the Premier League in the 2008-09 season, the club dumbfounded pundits and journalists who predicted they would go straight back down. McLeish led Birmingham to an eventual finish of ninth in the table, their best league position in 50 years. The club’s home form had been particularly impressive, a calendar year unbeaten was the first time a non top-four club had done so in 14 years, and it is a record any side would be proud of. When Birmingham lost to Everton it was disappointing of course, any defeat is, but to be booed of the field by a section of supporters was laughable, and Alex McLeish was understandably upset when he gave his post-match interview.
Being a football fan is often hard work. Especially when you support one of the lesser lights such as Birmingham, who have experienced their fair share of disappointments in the last decade or so. I think however that the majority of fans understand that the players and the manager are giving their all 95% of the time, and most will stick with the club through the good times and the bad. I think it is also the case that some fans are indeed never satisfied unless their club is winning multiple trophies every season and playing like the 1970 Brazil side.
I would argue that the players, managers and other fans should not worry themselves too mcuh with these sorts of people. You get individuals who are never satisfied in all walks of life and football is no different, it is just that they are often able to make their voices emphatically heard in the pubs, messageboards and the stadium. It is unavoidable in football, but the club’s should merely concern themselves with satisfying the majority of fans who understand that a team more often than not always tries its best.