MK Dons FanZoner Dominic Damesick cannot get his head around supporters booing their own players.
Booing our own players just makes no sense
One thing I have never understood in football is the logic behind booing your own players. This happened from a (very small) minority of Dons' fans on Saturday afternoon, when Angelo Balanta was substituted.
Now, admittedly, Balanta did not have a particularly good game against Hartlepool, although he was by no means alone on that front, and his form has been somewhat indifferent since he returned to Stadium:MK at the end of October. Does that mean, though, that fans are right to boo him when he leaves the field of play?
The main justification for this behaviour I have heard is that; if the player in question cannot be bothered to try his best, then he deserves to be subjected to a hostile reception. Yet, in all my years of watching football, I really struggle to think of many, if any, players who I could accuse of not trying. It seems, to me, counter-intuitive to believe that a professional footballer would not put in the effort required on a Saturday afternoon - it is his career and livelihood which is at stake after all.
If, though, a player was not trying, or if his attitude was amiss, the fans should rely on the manager to take the appropriate action, especially when they have a manager they can trust and believe in, as is surely the case with Karl Robinson. For the fans to take it upon themselves to act as a public jury, and to berate and humiliate those who they judge to have fallen short, would seem to only damage the player's confidence and, with it, the team's chances of success.
Perhaps most frustrating of all is those fans who take it upon themselves to provide a running commentary of under-performing players, in the crassest form of pseudo-punditry, and seek to prove the worthlessness of that player, regardless of the evidence available. This seems to be done to underline the fan's (self-attributed) credentials as someone who knows what they're talking about.
At this point to accept that a mistake has been made, in one's categorisation of a player as 'too good for this league' or as 'a waste of space', would be career suicide - in the mid-life resurgence to pursue a career occupying a chair on Match of the Day.
I travelled to watch the Dons away at Brentford just over a week ago, and was sat a short distance in front of one such wannabe pundit, who only felt it appropriate to share his insights with every travelling Don, as well as the players he was pigeon-holing on the pitch. Whenever Angelo Balanta did the slightest thing wrong, the cue for criticism was seized upon, while the things he did well were greeted with a deafening silence.
Equally, every contribution Stephen Gleeson made, however simple, was met with gushing adoration ('the boy's a class act'), while his few mistakes were allowed to pass without calls for his head. Unfortunately it often seems to be that those who shout the loudest have the least worth saying.
Supporters should, in my humble opinion, support - the clue being in the name. Of course, from one time or another, all fans express exasperation with a player, or label somebody as a has-been or a never-was. Yet, fans should not seek to make such verdicts self-fulfilling prophecies, and should be happy, rather than reluctant, to be proven wrong.
A few weeks ago I was of the opinion that Ryan Lowe had little to offer the MK Dons, and that Karl Robinson should cut his losses as soon as possible. Three goals in the last four games have caused me to revise my opinion of Lowe, and I could not be more pleased to see the summer arrival finally delivering the goals his record suggested he was capable of. I hope he continues to force my words further down my throat in the coming weeks.
Right now, I do not see a future at the club for Charlie MacDonald, but I would like nothing more than to see the diminutive striker silence his many doubters, of which I include myself, in the New Year. This is the point: fans should be happy to be proven wrong, fans should not unreservedly write-players off and fans should seek to lift up those players who are struggling.
That seems to me a much better potential return for one's money than hindering (be it through booing or vocal criticism) the efforts of the team one has paid to support!