I am a fan. A football fan, a basketball fan, even a volleyball or a tennis fan at times. And I really enjoy telling about me, myself and what I like. Mostly I make the mistake that what I think and feel represents what any fan would think and want. We are all individuals and being a fan means different things to many of us, in different aspects, naturally.,
In one of my previous articles I asked the question from other side of the line; it was the scope of clubs and their boards towards us, the fans. Now is our turn.
Fans are people of emotions, naturally, otherwise such affection would not have been possible. And in presence of such intense emotions rationalism goes out the door.But the game (or games if you widen the scope to other branches of sports too) are not subject to emotions when it comes to executing the essentials on the pitch. It mostly is of sense and mind, rather than feelings and heart.
There comes the conflicts of the fans; how should they behave, what should they want and to what extent?
Fans' expectations are towards players mostly. Then managers/coaches, than the board. Actually in my opinion it depends on the age of the fan him/herself. When you are of the playing age or below you really focus on the players, as you get older you both understand the game more deeply if you are interested and also familiarize yourself with the man in charge and you start talking about management of the team, tactics etc. Then you grow older and look at the men/women in the boards of the clubs and you don't like the transfers, stadiums, the policies.
Let's talk about the player-fan relationship first. Who do fans like, and who do they hate? They definitely want a player who loved the club as much as they do, that's the first thing, which is almost impossible nowadays. A player born and raised with the love of a club would not achieve to be there. And even if they do, things change a lot, they play for different clubs on the way, agents intervene, etc. Their love may fade in time. And many times, a player who loves the club as much as the fans do lack the talent, which is sad.
If it is not possible for any new transfer to love the club as much as fans do, then at least s/he would not be a fan of the fierce rivals. In this point the boards and managers are involved too. Such a transfer generally cannot blend into the team and rarely received any love from the guys in the stands.
S/he is not a fan of the club they play for, neither is a fan of the rivals. But is a good player and a true professional, what about it. For me, it is the second best case possible, since s/he will sweat the jersey for the money s/he earns and will help the team improve and succeed. Who would say no to that?
Then there are the hypocrites, which are legalized by unstable and irrational demands of the fans; the players who are like fans on the pitch but tight professionals on the table when the contract time comes along. They really are after the money that the game brings but some are real "players" that the manage to fool the fans that they are really striving to remain in the club. Big time lie.
The last group do not last long, they are lottery buys, which are bought for "..just in case". Just in case they may improve much, or come in as a sub and play the game of their careers. They do not last long and are easily forgotten.
From the managers of the clubs, the fans again expect similar things, but in a different dimension. They want to watch a "team which plays well". They want it so much that they sometimes kid themselves with the lie "it doesn't matter if we win or lose, just play well!". Well, yeah, no way. A team losing 2 or 3 games despite "playing well" would not satisfy anyone, that consolation of "playing well" would not last long and it will again be the fans who will start complaining first.
The manager, the technical staff in charge of the team should know what fans want, but do the fans know what they want themselves? Definitely fans are not the spot to decide the tactical plot, the lineups etc, but they ALWAYS have an idea! They have favorable tactical formations and of course an ideal starting lineup matching that formation. But it varies wildly. They have the craziest of ideas when it comes to times of trouble. Good thing that fans do not manage teams.
And the elderly. They have seen today's columnists, who were players of yesterday, witnessed many miracles and clapped more legendary players than we did. So they are now the authority to criticize the boards! They don't like inside the stadium, they miss the old times' players who are now icons of the youngsters who did not have the chance to watch them but have an image of those players from the epic stories told by the elders.
Fans... They are always there, always the back bone. Despite money taking over the support of the fans, they are still there and still will be. They will have their own values, which they consider to be unique to the club's community, hold on to those values and defend them, sometimes even against the boards, or each other. Time to time they may realize that those values are merely an illusion, that the team that they support is, in reality, just a coincidence or environmental. But still they will protest the transfer of a player from their long term arch-rivals, will not buy their jersey, will not shout as much as they would if that player scores a goal.
But they will always want the ones on the pitch to love the game, love the club as much as they like, deserve the money they earn and sweat the almost holy jerseys that they wear. Those will, never in my opinion, change...