So once again I find myself in the depths of despair that is watching live European football, pretty confident that at this time next year, I will not be watching my beloved Hammers in Europe. It’s not all bad though, I’m also confident that after Saturday’s performance we won’t be playing Championship football. The point that I’ve taken from this game that got me thinking ISN’T how Joey O’Brien could easily improve either Man United or Real Madrid just by taking a full-back berth, no, it’s the way the modern game reacts to the fans in the stands.
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Us West Ham fans have taken a lot of grief over the last week for booing Scott Parker, something Manchester United fans are doing to Cristiano Ronaldo as I type this (or ‘were doing’ depending on when this gets published). Will the wonderful, passionate, media-darling Manchester United fans get the same abuse that the ‘vociferous, arrogant’ West Ham fans got? Hopefully not; our fans’ ‘treatment’ of Scott Parker (albeit a minority of fans) I believe only made headlines because of our former midfielder’s reaction:
‘I didn’t expect the West Ham fans to boo me, and obviously it was a little bit disappointing’
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s either right or wrong to have booed him, but that statement makes Parker look both foolish and hard done by. Maybe the West Ham fans that booed him ‘didn’t expect’ Scott to leave for another club? Maybe they were a ‘little disappointed’ that he left? Especially when you consider that Rob Green stayed for another season, Carlton Cole took a pay-cut and Mark Noble battled tirelessly in the West Ham midfield. Yes, Parker no doubt had England ambitions but I can’t help but believe that the other three players also did.
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We, the fans, pay our money to watch our team play. It doesn’t end at match tickets. Drink, travel, dodgy burger and uncomfortable replica shirts all add up. When you think that Parker earns more a week than a lot, if not all, of us earn a year, then it’s very difficult to see him as the victim he’s portraying himself as. If the remarks and opinions of supporters steer clear of racism and other distasteful or offensive comments then it’s wrong to censor the fans. All seater stadia have sucked a lot of the atmosphere out of the game. If we pander to players complaining about the supporters, it won’t be long before we’re sat in silence.
In closing, I’d like to point out that I liked Parker a lot during his West Ham spell. He played the game with passion, consistently giving his all. The fact he is a gentleman is why he has received so much sympathy whilst airing his grievances. Our fans were already under the microscope for the unacceptable scenes at White Hart Lane in late November and as much as I respect Parker, I feel that his response to being booed was an over-reaction.
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