Three references to the approach some Sunderland supporters adopt towards their club caught the eye yesterday and today, says Monsieur Salut.
First, as most readers will have seen, several important points were made in Pete Sixsmith’s typically measured and intelligent report on the 1-1 draw at Luton Town.
It’s a great read in its entirety but this passage leapt from the page:
Some in the crowd and on the message boards, criticise Maja for not being strong enough, which is a bit like criticising an apple for not tasting like an orange. He is not a physical player (yet) but he is very good at getting himself between the ball and an opponent and won a number of free kicks because of this. Some of our supporters need to realise that he is young and is still learning. Two good goals in two hard games is a pretty decent record.
Then I came across two items at Facebook, each making essentially the same point (while also fleshing out Pete’s more specific one).
Paul Summerside, an occasionally contributor here and much more often at Salut! Sunderland’s Facebook group, wrote:
As from today I have stopped following ALL SAFC Fanzines online. I’m sick and tired of the constant drivel from some of our ‘fans’. It’s borderline dross. From now on I’ll be quite happy with Nick Barnes, Salut!, and the opinions of my ‘real’ friends.
The praise for this site is appreciated but not the reason I reproduce Paul’s words. The BBC Newcastle matchday commentator Nick Barnes, also mentioned with approval, echoed his view:
I’m minded to come off Facebook – can’t believe the negativity surrounding the draw at Luton. Sunderland are League One with a largely League One team. No divine right to beat everyone else in the division. They are a work in progress and unbeaten. I despair
The responses in all cases are welcome.
Nick’s posting has attracted 137 “likes” (as I write) and Pete Sixsmith, among the many leaving comments, said: “It was a good result against a good side. I despair at times: some of those stood near me were much happier criticising than praising. The sh**** word is becoming overused.”
Paul’s posting has generated some good debate, too. Ed Tutty offered this: “On a wider note, this is what is wrong with social media in general. Keyboard warriors who feel their voice needs to be heard. Very rare that I look at fans’ forums on any sport for this reason.”
What it boils down to is this. Sunderland supporters are entitled to be angry as well as saddened at what has happened in the past couple of season (and much of what happened before that). There is no law, thanks heavens, against expressing opinions, even robustly, provided this does not breach sensible restrictions on hatred and incitement.
But two games into a season after beginning a root-and-branch overhaul of an ailing club, Jack Ross deserves our backing. Constructive criticism is legitimate. But absolutely nothing positive will be gained from belittling or barracking our own players, individually or collectively, at the game or online.
Happily, my guess is that what has incensed Pete, Nick and Paul is limited to a small but loud-mouthed minority.