Fake fans, banter sites and certainty in stupidity: the plight of the modern game

Football banter Premier League football opinion

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell

We all know that one person, or two. Let’s be honest actually, it’s more likely 50.

The self-proclaimed experts of the modern game. You know the lads. They often don’t actually support anyone, in particular, they only have half the interest in football as proper fans and yet are intent on imposing their shite banter and lazy narratives on those who truly care. Most of their footballing education has been received through Facebook pages such as BenchWarmers and SPORTbible.

They’re the lads who dismiss any attempt to humanise players with hysterical laughter and belittling of whoever holds the opinion that the superstars we watch week-in week-out are just ordinary men in their 20s who are really good at footie.

They’re the lads who will simplify everything about football to the point where a four-year-old could comprehend the point being made, whilst still believing they are a philosopher of the game by describing Arsenal’s defence as ‘crap’ or labelling Jurgen Klopp ‘a bottler’.

They’ll latch onto any media narrative and run with it. They’ll vouch for Luka Modric to win the Ballon d’Or despite having only seen him play four times in the calendar year, and call for their side to sign William Carvalho because he has 86 aggression on FIFA 19.

Seconds after a goal is scored in a big game they’ll take to Facebook to post about the magic of what they’ve just seen, in case any of their 2,271 friends didn’t realise they were watching the game in question.

They’ll laugh and mock the mistakes of defenders and goalkeepers as if they could’ve done better themselves. They’ll pity ‘idiotic’ managerial decisions such as team selections, even though the coach who has made the call sees the players in action every day as opposed to once a week.

They’ll involve themselves in some of the most soulless, least creative ‘banter’ known to man with jokes about defenders finding top-class strikers in their pocket when they get home after a game and Spurs being the only side who could finish third in a two-horse race.

Living in Ireland you get a lot of these people. As the Premier League is the main attraction here, you find a whole host of football fans who have never been to Old Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge in their lives and yet are steadfast in their opinion that they understand the correct spirit in which football should be experienced, discussed and watched.

I should clarify a few things here. Firstly, this isn’t a condemnation of foreign fans, as I myself am one.

Also, this isn’t a criticism of people who only watch bits and pieces of the footie or even people who only watch Match of the Day, as again, aside from the Reds I’m more interested in cool stadiums and retro kits than I am in Maurizio Sarri’s preferred formation or Mesut Ozil’s release clause.

What this is, is anti-bullshitters. It’s a message to the people who see football only as entertainment, and players only as objects and yet believe themselves to be the voice of authority in the field.

It is for all those who only use football as a conversational topic to enhance their reputation and boost their ego by dismissing any alternative opinion other than the widely-accepted narrative.

Football is incredible. What makes it so brilliant is not necessarily the physical game itself, but everything around it. This is what people need to realise.

It is about the communal activity of watching football, the lifestyle and the sub-cultures around it. The colour, the tribalism, the matchday experience, the euphoria of a last-minute winner, the fashion, the lights shining down on a hallowed turf, iconic kits, unforgettable goals and the love of your own team.

It’s my opinion that people have a duty to protect this vision, regardless of how idealistic it may be.

There is a moment when you go to a football match and experience this odd, underwhelming realisation that these footballers who are adored, scrutinised, discussed and questioned literally 24/7 across the globe, are just ordinary humans.

It’s now laughed at to suggest that heavy rain had an impact on a game or that a player battling with a head cold shouldn’t be excused from a mistake or two.

How dare they act in accordance with their basic biological needs, emotions and physical limitations when they’re being paid six figures a week?

Football is not as simple as saying ‘he’s shite’ or ‘all he’s got is pace’. Football is incredibly complex for such a simple sport. There’s no need to claim to know everything about it, you’ll just look like a knob.

Football should be enjoyed and experienced, not simplified. What a shame that on social media and in pubs far and wide, the sport is often represented by those who don’t understand the game but are cocksure they do like no other.