Why is there so much negativity among Vale fans (and will it change)?

Why is there so much negativity among Vale fans (and will it change)?

The subject of “negative” Vale fans has been much debated in recent weeks – here’s the view of the OVF editor.

Rob Fielding writes…

I can understand some of the anxiety of Vale supporters but at times, it does feel like a “glass half-empty” approach can be the default view of some fans.

Some “supporters” thrive on crisis – swooping into the forum like vultures every time the club gets into trouble…

One view raised in the OVF forum last week was whether some “supporters” thrive on crisis – swooping into the forum like vultures every time the club gets into trouble either on (or more often) off the pitch. I can see the poster’s view. I can’t account for the actions of other Vale fans but some do seem to be more active during crises than when the club is doing well.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles how it’s part of being human to moan. Studies have found that people are far more likely to communicate complaints than to convey praise. That makes sense – if there’s a problem you want it solving – if there isn’t a problem then there’s no longer such an incentive to get in touch. But I don’t think that can explain the attitudes of some Vale fans.

So, while I can understand concern over such vitally important matters as – the ownership of the club, the potential splitting of football club from stadium or high profile incidents that give the club unwelcome press coverage (such as the comments on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink) a large proportion of the moaning on other matters seems nonsensical to this Vale fan.

A large proportion of the moaning on other matters seems nonsensical to this Vale fan…

Let’s take this example – Rob Page gets stick and can do no right in some eyes. That’s the same manager who has brought in some quality additions this summer, the same manager who equalled a home record set by John Rudge twenty years ago, a manager who’s still a relative rookie and while working under the pressure of a club sale, has remained professional and taken the club to ninth in the table.

Yes, some of Page’s decisions can leave him open to debate but isn’t he still learning? I really can’t see why the omission of Remie Streete is even creating debate when the team has lost just twice in the last nine games. In those games the defence has been a combination of Duffy, Inniss or McGivern – it’s hardly cause to parachute Remie in, even though I believe he shows great potential.

To me, this sort of moaning is what I call the GRASS IS GREENER moan. It’s a argument that can never be resolved. It goes something like this:

  • Fans call for a player to be involved (often without having seen them play much – purely on the spurious argument of “well they *must* be better”) such as Campion, Hooper and Streete.
  • The manager doesn’t pick said player.
  • Win, lose or draw, that player’s champions will argue that “Vale would have done much better if player x was playing…”

There’s no allowance for if the player is in form, fits the formation, is injured or whether the manager was actually right…

There’s no allowance for if the player is in form, fits the formation, is injured or whether the manager was actually right with going with another better, more experienced, more in-form player in his actual starting eleven.

I would imagine Rob Page does his experimenting on the training ground – picking a player here and there to see what they can do. But he’s not going to gamble too much in a competitive match, especially when the life-time of a football manager can be measured in months and one bad result could see him lose his job.

However, because the player didn’t play the fan can continue to argue (and argue and argue…) that it would have been much better if his favourite was playing.

Then there’s the afore-mentioned VULTURES – the ones who swoop into action as soon as there is a crisis. I think this group are slightly different because I think they are motivated by chaos and want to be the ones to be seen to have lead the club out of the shadows.  So, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But while it’s worthy to want to save the Vale, I do wonder why some of this group don’t expend the same energy to benefit the club when it’s doing well? *

* A big disclaimer on this one – there are undoubtedly people, some true Valiants, who rose to the occasion when Vale were in trouble and who also do a hell of a lot for the club during better times as well. They aren’t vultures – they are heroes.

The third category of negativity is the DOOM AND GLOOM BRIGADE. It seems that nothing will help these poor sods. If Vale are playing a big match there will complaining about queues, parking or the catering outlets being busy. If the club try an initiative they will be told it will never work. If fans are protesting they’ll say it’ll never work. They never fail to see the bad side of anything.

What’s causing all this discontent?

Well clearly, uncertainty over the club’s future and some controversial remarks from the owner have probably stoked things up. Then there’s the general problems of the Stoke-on-Trent area – when people have little money, jobs are scarse and future’s bleak is it any wonder that they haven’t got a smile on their face?

But for me, the problem also lies with John Rudge. I’m only half-joking…

But for me, the problem also lies with John Rudge. I’m only half-joking.

Many fans grew up during the Rudge era and were frankly spoiled at the time. Ever since then, the club have struggled to reach those heights – the style of play isn’t up to Rudge standards, the league position is lower and perhaps most damaging of all – in the meantime neighbours Stoke have reached the Premier League.

Those will long memories will remember that even Rudge wasn’t immune to this air of negativity. Certain signings would be castigated, substitutions would still be frowned upon even during the glory days.

So how can this negativity been removed if it’s been there since the Rudge years?

I wish I knew. Some is out of our control. The prosperity or otherwise of the Potteries and the league position of our closest rivals are largely beyond our influence. However, I guess cutting down on PR gaffes would help. As would success on the pitch. Then again, even with the club in a healthy ninth place right now, you’d seldom guess it from some of the comments. I just hope some of the fans cheer up and see things a little bit more “glass half-full”.

Yes, the future of your life-long club is a serious business but if all you’re ever going to see is the negatives all the time how on earth will you ever see the positives?

Up the Vale!