Is it acceptable to boo your own club’s players? On Saturday Emmanuel Eboue was booed off the pitch after being taken off for an error strewn performance in which he looked shot of confidence. He had come on after half an hour but was taken off just before the end (when was the last time an uninjured sub got subbed?) having given the ball away numerous times while Arsenal were holding on to a 1-0 lead against Wigan. The most notable incident saw him essentially tackle Toure and pass straight to the opposition.
Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m not Eboue’s biggest fan – I think he’s a lazy, nonchalant player who frustrates, dives and contributes little from the right wing. He feigns injury more than he scores. He had zero goals and just two assists in the league last year and has scored just three times in his Arsenal career. That said he’s a pretty good right back (no Sagna though) and an alright right winger whilst also having the ability to fill in at several other positions. His main strengths are his strength, pace and running. He seems popular amongst the players if not fans, always in the goal celebrations and apparently the team’s joker. Basically a good squad player who is worth keeping for his versatility until our younger players mature.
Showing frustration is different – you can moan at a player all you want, say he’s f-ing useless this, piece of crap that. But booing is unproductive and frankly embarrassing. Is his performance likely to improve when booed? I don’t think so. Many players thrive on adversity but Eboue is not one of them. He looked distraught when taken off. Let’s put this in context too. Eboue hasn’t has a great Arsenal career thus far and has many bad games including on Saturday. But that’s all it was – a bad game. Every Arsenal player has had a bad game. What about players that have cost trophies? Was David Seaman booed after Nayim’s lob? Almunia after Paris? Bergkamp after the FA Cup penalty miss in 1999? (say what you like but that was the key to United’s treble). Even Gallas hasn’t received the same treatment despite everyone thinking he’s a prat. After Adebayor’s summer flirtation with Barca I didn’t boo him. I just didn’t cheer him on.
Whilst I would not be sorry to see him leave I felt the booing Eboue received on Saturday was unfair. As far as I am aware you go to games to support you team, through the thick as well as the thin. There are players you like and players you think are a waste of space but to boo them is to become a fan of the opposition. The changing dynamic of football fans means there are many who have only started supporting Arsenal recently – the entertainment fitting in with it being trendy, all with a price to match. When you don’t get the entertainment you are disappointed and you vent your frustrations. The atmosphere at the Emirates is often dictated by how the team is playing and not vice versa. Only the big games against United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs see constant singing. This goes back to the final years at Highbury too. There was a reason it was nicknamed the Library. You may feel that after paying £40 (or more, in many cases) you are entitled to do what you want but if you’re not there to support the team you shouldn’t be there at all. I for one hope it doesn’t happen again.