Everyone mocked Louis van Gaal when he warned the media about the implications their words had on his family and friends. Whether this derision was born from the fact that this stubborn, straight-faced veteran of the game has been a picture of perpetual apathy since his arrival at Old Trafford, and is thus considered ‘un-emotional’, is no excuse.
It is not just LVG who has been the subject of abuse from the media, in all its forms; Roberto Martinez, Arsene Wenger and Steve McClaren have all been on the receiving end of disrespectful and insulting statements.
Whilst the criticism in the press is censored by a moral code of decorum, no such law exists on social media, and in the stands. Trolls have acted with reckless abandon on the internet, using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as their playground for vitriolic hate. Granted, most managers never see the abuse directed their way on social media, but this acidic attitude translates into an army of verbal assaults from the stands, come match-day.
Fans vent their anger at a manager’s shortcomings through chants and banners that pierce even the thickest of skins. This week a video of a young Evertonian singing an explicit rendition of ‘Allez Allez Oh’ circulated the internet, with Martinez being described as ‘S***’, and its content calling for his departure. A young boy swearing, with fellow fans egging him on is not the only problem, though it should be.
Granted, protests are, more often than not, required if fans are disgruntled about their current manager: the hierarchies at many clubs these days consists of money-making businessmen incapable of realising ineptitude on the pitch. However, this is no justification for some of the forms protests take – from a torrent of abuse from one fan to en-masse chanting.
Managers are humans, too. They do have armoured skin, but even the toughest of armour is incapable of protecting one from incessant insults.
If fans wants to protest, protest – it’s a supporter’s right, but fans must bear in mind the repercussions their words have for the manager, their family, and their friends. Protest in a civilised, non-hateful fashion, and your voice will be heard just as much as it would have amidst a hurricane of hostility and profanity.