Booing or general protesting in football is one of those obscure trend-following occurrences, in that it is both fashionable to do it and fashionable to criticise those who do it.
While many will argue that booing only serves to create a negative atmosphere which doesn’t help the players on the pitch in the slightest, it is a reasonable assertion to counter that fans have every right to voice their opinions.
There is a line, of course. The abuse and threats sent in Steve Kean’s direction have been nothing short of obscene and paint a damning – and misleading, quite frankly – picture of Rovers fans as a whole. Sympathyfor Kean has been forthcoming and those fans giving such treatment to the manager have been roundly criticised, and this is entirely fair.
What is not fair, though, is the condemnation of Blackburn fans who can see their club nearing the abyss, relatively and potentially speaking. Particularly galling is the media and fans of other clubs criticising Rovers fans for essentially caring about their football club. As the brilliant Andi Thomas puts it in his June article: “The underlying message to the fans is that their opinion is not worthy of consideration because they are emotionally involved with the club”.
How can people who have no emotional ties to the club and watch Blackburn games on a semi-regular basis – usually through ten minute highlights on Match of the Day, never the best way to analyse a team – shout down those who watch the games every week and have seen the club slowly but surely turn into a big Chicken-puns-galore joke?
There are small positives for Blackburn: Chris Samba is a colossus; Yakubu is one of the best goal scorers in the League when given the chances to score; Junior Hoillet and Ruben Rochina are exciting talents but look likely to move on to bigger and better things. Nice for the fans to enjoy them while they can, though.
Make no bones about it, however, Blackburn are utterly woeful, and the fans know it. They can see the club being torn apart by the Venkys, the soul being ripped out by a manager who doesn’t appear to have any ideas on how to save the club and owners who – from what the football world has seen of them so far (and what else can we judge them on?) – quite literally don’t know what they’re doing. As Blackburn blogger Mikey Delap says, fans are unhappy with much more than just Kean’s managerial record.
Since October, Blackburn have won two games (not including the friendly against Pune FC): Newcastle at home in the Carling Cup after extra-time and Swansea at home in the League. Of their last ten games, six have been losses and 21 goals have been conceded. An embarrassing – and deserved – exit from the Carling Cup at the hands of Cardiff City is only a small part of the overall mess that is Blackburn Rovers.
The club’s financial situationdoesn’t look particularly positive and the connection to the club of Jerome Anderson continues to be a worrying state of affairs. Blackburn fans don’t like the way the club is going and, given that Rovers are one of those clubs largely ignored by the majority of people on a regular basis unless they overachieve massively or they are particularly poor, it seems quite condescending to not only tell Blackburn fans how to behave, but also how to feel.
The Championship beckons for Blackburn, by no means the worst thing in the world but not where their fans want to be. Are they supposed to sit with their hands on their laps, their mouths shut and only speak when asked to?
Just as commenters on the outside can seem rational and are said to sometimes talk more sense than those who have emotional bonds with a subject, they can sometimes not get the full picture on the subject, and can at times misunderstand completely. To condemn all Blackburn fans for their protests – for caring – is wholly wrong.