OVF founder Rob Fielding argues that it was unfair for Port Vale manager Micky Adams to single out online fans for criticism earlier this week.
Rob Fielding writes…
In many ways, I’m split by Micky Adams controversial comments at the weekend.
In the post-Torquay match interview, Adams launched into a somewhat bitter attack on his critics and in particular, fans using Internet sites to criticise him and his team. Adams commented that some of the online criticism was “paranoia and hysteria.”
I don’t see why the Vale manager had to target just one set of fans…
While I can certainly appreciate that attacking a team that are currently in second place in the table and in with a pretty good chance of promotion can be seen as counter-productive, I don’t see why the Vale manager had to target just one set of fans. Yes, I’ve read criticism on the OVF forum. But then I’ve also heard booing on the terraces, criticism in the pubs both before and after games and doubtless there is criticism at home and in the workplace too.
Perhaps Adams thinks it’s the right approach to attack “anonymous” fans on the Internet? But his logic is flawed.
Why? Well, I’m guessing that the Vale manager decided to attack online critics because they are an easy target. Unlike pubs and workplaces, the criticism is there to read the following day, users are often anonymously using pseudonyms and fans’ websites already suffer a bad press thanks to unjustified attacks from the previous, discredited board.
The fans posting on the Internet can’t be separated from those booing on the terraces or criticising in the pub. Being a user of a messageboard on the web, does not exclude you from being at the ground or talking about the club at the pub or in your workplace…
There may be even be the view that these online critics are somehow different from the criticism delivered elsewhere. But if that’s also your view then I’m afraid you’re wrong.
The fans posting on the Internet can’t be separated from those booing on the terraces or criticising in the pub. Being a user of a messageboard on the web, does not exclude you from being at the ground or talking about the club at the pub or in your workplace. The criticism on the forum is no stronger than the criticism elsewhere. In fact, I would go further and say that there are significantly more online Vale fans supporting the team than criticising it.
I do think some people reading Adams’ comments would think that online Vale forums are almost entirely composed of vitriolic, unacceptable abuse and criticism of him and his team. That’s not a true reflection of the facts. Yes, there is some criticism – some justified and some in my opinion over the top (individuals are entitled to their individual view, even if I disagree). But look at the thumbs down next to the overly critical posts. In most cases, the posts have been voted down in large numbers by fellow fans who feel the criticism is unjustified. In other words, most online fans are not “hysterical” critics and do not approve of some of the more vitriolic comments.
I also feel there are far more positives than negatives on the OVF website. Look at the 150-odd mainly positive responses to Paul Wildes plans for the club. Or the £850 raised for the Supporters Club Fighting Fund by onevalefan.co.uk? Or indeed the near £25,000 put into the club funds by various OVF sponsorships, competition prizes and advertising? Or OVF’s fight, along with other websites and groups, to try and rid the club of a board that was damaging the club.
While I have criticised Adams before for attacks on online fans, I have also blogged in the summer supporting Adams’ transfer tactics and I praised him after the club’s excellent start to the season. Another blogger, Malcolm Hist, appealed for the then-fractured fanbase to unite behind Adams. It’s really not all “paranoia and hysteria” as Mr Adams put it.
In many ways, just as unjustified attacks on certain players are lazy and show a lack of knowledge of the subject, so do attacks on one group of fans over another. For instance, I wouldn’t dream of telling Mr Adams how to manage the side as I would have no knowledge of what his job entails or whether I could do it (I doubt it). But perhaps he should heed the same advice when he launches into an attack on this and other websites? Ranting about something you don’t really understand isn’t the best approach.
So, this is not a defence of some of the over-the-top criticism of the team. For the record, I believe that this is the time we should be rational and look back at how much the team has achieved before we criticise…
But this is not a defence of some of the over-the-top criticism of the team. For the record, I believe that this is the time we should be rational and look back at how much the team has achieved before we criticise. Any criticism should be constructive and not hysterical.
So what is this article about? Well, simply I think it’s unfair to pick on one particular supporters’ element. Why attack Internet critics and not terrace critics? Why single out one group and not another?
I guess only the Vale manager can answer that one. I await the post-Oxford press conference with interest.