DAILY MAIL 🔵 SIMON JORDAN: The day I wanted to strangle fans who abused me – Shango Media
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DAILY MAIL 🔵 SIMON JORDAN: The day I wanted to strangle fans who abused me

  • Fans are the lifeblood of the game. We want them to be full of emotion but unfortunately, that comes with a flipside.

Kalvin Phillips was on the receiving end of fans’ ire last weekend and reacted in a stupid, albeit, human way.

By sticking up his middle finger at a critical West Ham supporter, Phillips amplified the situation and made himself the story.

But without wishing to justify or excuse the jeering fan, I’m afraid that sort of thing goes with the territory of being a professional footballer.

Would I like football fans to behave better? Of course I would but I’d also to not have swindlers, con artists or knife crime in society. Come to think of it, as a Londoner, I’d also like not to have to put up with that God-awful mayor of London Sadiq Khan and his dreadful initiatives and agendas. But we don’t live in the ideal world, we live in the real world.

Fans are the lifeblood of the game. Apparently we want them to be full of emotion and we want them to care deeply about their clubs. Unfortunately, all that comes with a flipside. It’s like the old Scorpion and the Frog fable. The scorpion promises not to sting the frog but does it anyway because that’s what scorpions do.

Kalvin Phillips came under fire for putting up his middle finger to furious West Ham fans

The Manchester City loanee has failed to distinguish himself at the London Stadium after move

Phillips long-held spot in the England squad looks under-fire ahead of the European Championship

So what are we asking football fans to be? We want them to be highly-charged and full of blind loyalty to their football clubs because that’s what makes the game so special. People are celebrated and vilified in equal measure but that is all part of the emotional alchemy that fuels football.

Phillips is not alone, sometimes footballers react to provocation. Do we expect the emotion to be taken out of a footballer and that such emotion is only the precinct of fans because they are paying and supporting their side while players are paid to perform and entertain and therefore ultimately fair game for criticism, no matter how over the top?

Ideally, we’d all like a more polite society but it doesn’t work that way.

Phillips is a decent pro and by all accounts a decent man but should have controlled himself and his judgment was poor. He let himself down. While I don’t believe those dreaded ‘optics’ should define things, it’s not a good look. It doesn’t reflect well on him and is probably due to his frustration with where he is at in his career.

It may not have been how he wanted to hear criticism or delivered in the fairest way but life is unfair. All he achieved was to open the door to more destructive comments about him. He’s made the problem worse and that clearly doesn’t help him. He’s not making any headway at West Ham, he’s not in the England squad after being such a peripheral figure at Manchester City and now he’s appearing to lose his cool, lose his focus and bite back at a bunch of strangers who had a pop at him for a poor performance.

Now, it’s neither pleasant nor constructive for fans to single out a player but, as I say, it goes with the territory.

We can’t lose sight of the fact that footballers are human beings. They’re not robots but if you asked any professional footballer if they would take the rough with the smooth, 99.9 per cent would sign up for it. Now and again someone will say something you don’t like and you can’t respond to it but you’re going to have a wonderful career with opportunities that exceed every expectation you could have of life. You’re going to be set up for life as a result of kicking a ball around for a few hours a week. That’s the trade off, it’s not one or the other, you have to have both.

The midfielder's difficult season might make fan criticism tough to take, but it is part and parcel with being a footballer

Simon Jordan once had a confrontation with a group of fans during his time at Crystal Palace

While I would always argue against players engaging with abusive fans, it’s different if you’re an owner. When I was at Crystal Palace I confronted a group of fans near the directors box who were calling me every expletive under the sun. We lost at home and looked like we were heading for relegation to what is now League One. I think my mum was there and I can assure you it wasn’t water off a duck’s back for me, I wanted to strangle them.

The next game, I waited for them in their seats. No stewards, just me. Their faces dropped to the floor as they made their way towards me. I told them I understood they were upset and emotional because I was too. I was trying to do my best for them and other fans and had sacked the manager but told them they don’t get to scream at me like that just because you don’t like a result. They were apologetic and pleaded not to be kicked out of the ground.

But that was me and that was then. There is nothing to be gained by players – whether its Phillips or anyone else – going up against supporters because they ain’t going to win.

Too many players are living on reputations they haven’t earned and ultimately benefitting from being in an industry that sometimes rewards mediocrity and survives on the emotion supporters feel. What other business at times serves up rubbish yet every other weekend gets the same people coming back? Not bloody many!

It’s not always nice and it’s not always fair but football comes with those emotions and unreasonable expectations. It makes it what it is. Receiving abuse is certainly unreasonable but it goes with the territory. Should the territory be a better place? Yes of course it should but this is the game. Emotion drives and fuels the uniqueness of football – and with that comes fans ready to point out all your flaws. You have to deal with it. That’s why you’re a professional footballer and they’re supporters.

Finally… a compelling title race 

We have a brilliant title race on our hands.

Some are suggesting Manchester City have been diminished this season but I don’t buy that. They are still a formidable side, still retain the hunger required to win the biggest prizes and Pep Guardiola is still exactly the man you’d want to handle the pressure of this three-way fight for supremacy.

Manchester City may be undiminished but they have some tough rivals for the title this term

Liverpool and Arsenal have closed the gap to the serial winners and have the chance to see out a truly competitive end to the season

What’s happened is Liverpool and Arsenal have got better. They’ve got closer to City and that’s why we’re seeing this competitive title race. This is what we want, this is great for the Premier League. There are so many strands to it – the emotion of Jurgen Klopp’s last season at Anfield, the question of whether Mikel Arteta has the chops for it as well as City trying to win a record fourth title in a row. What a fabulous bunch of narratives.

At a time when all we’re hearing about is Financial Fair Play and points deductions, here we have this compelling title race.

The last thing we want is a monopoly but having said that, I still think City will win both the Premier League and Champions League – and with a FA Cup semi-final to come against Chelsea, I would not rule out another treble.

Keane’s Haaland hyperbole is just part of his pantomime villainy 

Roy Keane likened Erling Haaland’s build-up play to that of a League Two player.

Come on Roy, don’t be ridiculous. That’s just hyperbole, a silly comparison for the purpose of performing a role in the media.

Can there be improvements to Haaland’s game? Yes. But his primary function is to score goals and he does that pretty well.

This is an entertainment business and those comments are undoubtedly entertaining but they don’t carry the usual gravitas I would associate with Roy. This is Roy performing his pantomime villain role.

Now I’m an admirer of Roy – as a player and a pundit. He’s cut from a certain cloth. He’s not really concerned about who he is popular with or bothered about celebrating and protecting the age-old football mythologies that you don’t say certain things. He calls it as he sees it but is becoming something of a caricature – scowling, permanently underwhelmed, that’s the role he performs for Sky.

Roy Keane (left) suggested that Erling Haaland's build-up play was more akin to a League Two player than a Treble winner

Pep Guardiola was quick to defend his goalscoring behemoth and couldn't resist a little dig

Pep Guardiola couldn’t resist a poorly-disguised little dig back, saying ‘it’s like if I said he’s a manager for the second or third league’.

Now you could argue Keane’s not even that given his availability, desire to get back into management and the fact that no one seems to want to offer him a job.

His body of work as a manager probably isn’t worthy of that much praise so maybe Pep was right.

Maybe Keane’s media persona diminishes him in some clubs’ eyes. It wouldn’t put me off. If I was still involved in football I’d be basing my decision on his previous achievements – not the theatre of what he’s saying on Sky Sports – and coming to the conclusion that he’s not one for me. 

Hayes is wrong to bring gender into it – that’s regressive 

It was disappointing to watch and listen to the weekend spat between Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and Arsenal’s Jonas Eidevall.

Hayes shoved Eidevall at the final whistle of Sunday’s League Cup final in response to what she claimed was ‘male aggression’ on the side of the pitch.

There is no denying there was inappropriate behaviour on both sides but by bringing gender into the debate, Hayes diminished her argument. We want women’s football to be valued, taken seriously and held to the same standards as the men’s game.

Put simply, Eidevall’s behaviour was undoubtedly out of order and he should be sanctioned. But there’s no need to bring the fact he’s a man into it. His sex is irrelevant. Hayes, who is making waves as a manger, referencing the fact he is male does not help or advance the women’s game. In fact, much the opposite.

This is a slippery slope. Imagine if it was the other way around and Eidevall had labelled Hayes as exhibiting female ‘moodiness’ or a lack of emotional control. Resorting to such lazy stereotypes is not helpful to anyone. Criticising someone by commenting on their gender, race, nationality or physical appearance, alongside the original complaint, just makes things worse.

A coach intimidated a player. End of story. His behaviour was unacceptable because it was unacceptable, not because he’s a man.

He can’t help being a man and this is one of the challenges the women’s game faces by the very nature of having men involved in it.

Is anyone asking for a women’s only game? Maybe that should be the case then to avoid these scenarios. Maybe we don’t want the best jobs in women’s game going to men when we should be delivering more female coaches. Women should undoubtedly be able to develop their game, hone and train their skillset and progress – but at the exclusion of all men? I’m not sure anyone really wants that…. Or maybe they do ?

Emma Hayes tangled with Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall (centre) after the Conti Cup final

The women’s game needs to move through the gears, bring in greater commercial sponsorships and grow the game.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for meritocracy but I also believe the women’s game needs support and nurturing to help players become coaches. Hayes has not helped this cause. She crossed the line by making this a men versus women issue. What is the point in that? Football needs to restrict its debate to arguing about the right type of tackle….

Do we really need a culture war in football? I would suggest not. Everyone needs to realise that inclusivity works worth ways, so let’s make it about his behaviour rather than his gender and move on before this kind of thing alienates everyone and potentially harms the women’s game and takes it back in the dark ages, not least commercially. So deep breaths everyone and let’s sort out unprofessional and undesirable behaviour without resorting to what is essentially playground name calling.

Listen to White and Jordan every weekday on talkSport from 10-1pm 

Erling HaalandPremier League



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