MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: On-line critics are voice of minority
9:00am Tuesday 12th February 2013 in Sport
ARE sports fans more hysterical and ridiculous in 2013 or does social media and the internet just make it seem like that?
Wouldn’t it always have been likely that Sam Warburton’s father would have to endure abuse because of his son’s so-called lack of form?
And wouldn’t County fans still be hammering Justin Edinburgh for the Exiles’ recent results, just in the pub over a pint and not on messageboards if this were a decade ago?
I have to think that’s the truth, that it’s simply a case of having more outlets to gripe, because otherwise fans have gone utterly crazy with a sense of entitlement that is beyond all realms of logic.
I’ll start with the rugby because frankly it’s reassuring to know it isn’t just us football fans who sometimes entirely lose the ability to retain any sort of perspective.
Let’s remember back to the World Cup and, specifically, the semi-final against France when Wales were very unlucky to be defeated after Warburton was dismissed for a tip-tackle early on.
That moment arguably cost Wales a first World Cup final place, but despite the cool and mature Warburton admitting his wrongdoing, the narrative in Wales was that it was entirely the fault of the referee for doing his job.
At the time the defence of Warburton was universal, an entire nation behind him and giving him the kind of adulation and support you’d usually expect to see in a musical Julie Andrews movie.
He’s one of the best in the world, after all.
And now? He’s the useless, hopeless, waste-of-space who is single-handedly the cause of Wales losing lots of games in a row.
Drop the jinx and what happens, Wales win in France. Case closed, point proven.
Except, of course, Warburton hasn’t become rubbish overnight, just as he probably wasn’t the greatest in the world in 2011.
He’s a fine player out of form, nothing more and nothing less.
I feel similarly about County.
They are a middle-table Conference side in terms of their budget, average attendance and, I would argue, in their off-field organisation where they continue to play catch-up.
They badly underachieved under Anthony Hudson and this season they have vastly overachieved under Justin Edinburgh.
How can you hope for and expect mid-table football in August and then take to our website or the fans’ forum to essentially call the manager and players useless when you slip to fifth?
The reaction to County’s draw with Tamworth on Saturday was as if the sky had fallen in.
Even yesterday I took a call about the ‘crisis’ at Newport.
My belief is that it’s merely the digital age that highlights these extreme views and makes them seem to reflect the mainstream.
I believe the vast majority of true Welsh rugby fans – and no country in the world has more bandwagon jumpers than Wales when it comes to rugby, including England and football – know full well Warburton is merely suffering a blip and that form is temporary and class permanent.
And surely most, if not all, County fans know in their heart-of-hearts this is a season where results have exceeded all possible expectation.
Newport are one of no more than seven or eight clubs still in contention for automatic promotion or a playoff spot and few could have imagined that back in June or July when Sam Foley and Gary Warren left for pastures new.
I don’t doubt most County fans are thrilled to be exactly where they are currently.
Because if the vocal minority of Twitter, on the Argus website and on other internet forums really are the voice of the majority, then we are in trouble.