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To boo or not to boo at Tottenham

Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur

When it comes to the notion of booing on a matchday, it feels somewhat dangerous to attempt to pontificate to others, whether engaging in such a vocal act at matches is either right or wrong.

After all, football isn’t some tangible element that we can all sit back and view objectively. If we did, in all likeliness, we simply wouldn’t be sitting down here and having the discussion that we are at the moment. All the supporters who pay to get through the turnstiles, have the right to cast opinion upon what they’ve paid to see. That much is simply undeniable.

However, the clue in the above passage comes in the term ‘supporter’.

In some circles, the Premier League has often been denoted as a medium of entertainment. And the economic realities do, to some extent, give that notion a touch of gravitas. We are living in an environment in which for many teams in this league, the coffers are boosted more by television deals than they are by fans coming through the gates.

But as illogical as it may seem, going to support your club on a matchday is a form of entertainment in only the most superficial of terms. For when you visit the cinema, go to the theatre, buy a new computer game, you are expecting to be entertained.

You’re shelling out money for a product or a medium that doesn’t require your input for it to do its job properly. If it’s good, you applaud. If it’s bad, you show your disapproval or in some cases, kick off. If you slam a film with a bad review or tell a mate to steer away from a new release on the Xbox, there is no aftermath. It’s not your problem if the director or developer doesn’t agree with you. What would they care, anyway?

The key difference here though, is that your input does make a difference, when you’re immersed in the footballing world of entertainment. That’s perhaps something of an understatement.

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As Jock Stein once uttered, “Football without the fans, is nothing.” The fans are the lifeblood of the club and the home crowd is its beating heart. Paying for your ticket – an increasingly chastising payment at that – does of course represent financial support and no one is denying that the fee paid, entitles supporters to whatever opinion they choose. But financially contributing to the club does not supersede all other aspects. It’s part of the whole package.

Supporting a club doesn’t just cease as soon as you’ve had your ticket clipped. In some ways, it signals the start of the process, the beginning of the matchday journey. The fans catalyse the players. Cheering, chanting, shouting and doing everything you can to get behind your team isn’t some optional extra on a matchday. It’s not some bizarre urban myth. It’s part and parcel of being supporter.

This isn’t some blinkered, romanticised call to arms to the masses, either. The counter-argument is of course, that the players need to inspire the fans. Of course they do, but it is the role of supporters, first and foremost, to support. If you feel after a sustained period of effort, where you have given your absolute all and every ounce of unwavering support and faith in the stands, that the players are taking both you and the club for granted, then, maybe just then, you begin hitting booing criteria.

But how about when your team are sitting joint fourth in the Barclays Premier League after ten games played, yet lose 1-0 at home in the midst of what is a debilitating injury crisis? Are you allowed to boo then? Have the players and manager well and truly taken the mickey? Not in a month of Sundays. And at White Hart Lane last Saturday, we saw a world-class exhibition of fandom, as opposed to support. And there is a massive difference between the two.

No one who witnessed the performance dished up by Andre Villas-Boas’ side could possibly make a case to defend what we all saw. It was desperately poor. But had this came in mid-February after a half-season of ubiquitous support in which the players had stopped playing, stop trying and stopped giving a monkeys, then you’ve got a right to start kicking off.

But it hasn’t been ubiquitous at all. In fact, you can trace the boos and moans of disapproval all the way back to the West Bromwich Albion game; Spurs’ first home fixture of the season.

Things aren’t quite clicking in N17 at the moment. Spurs’ progress this season – one that is by all accounts a term of transition – has been dogged by injury and a flawed summer of player recruitment. Both the manager and the players have made mistakes. But we are ten games in. Tottenham are behind fourth placed Everton on goal difference only. If someone would like to suggest how breeding an atmosphere of booing, hissing and overwhelming negativity is in any way going to do anything but detriment this side’s progress, please drop me a line on Twitter or in the comment box.

Football is an emotive sport and at the moment, Tottenham Hotspur are evoking frustration as the side look to devise a formula to really get their home form up off the ground. Spurs fans have traditionally always demanded a high level of football from their side. But they’ve also traditionally offered a fertile habitat of unwavering support to offer their side the best possible chance to succeed.

Maybe it’s been that long since a change of manager at White Hart Lane, that they’ve simply forgot to roll out the welcome mat. But since day one at home under Villas-Boas, that backbone of vocal support just hasn’t been there. It’s time for that to change. They say you get out what you put in – it’s time to turn White Hart Lane back into the fortress that it once was and rally behind this side, however frustrating things may seem.

To boo or not to boo? Where do you stand on this argument? Join me on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me how you feel about things at White Hart Lane. 

Article title: To boo or not to boo at Tottenham

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