Can Twitter save the relationship between footballers and their fans?
The most shocking part of Chelsea’s 7-1 thumping of Aston Villa at the weekend wasn’t the scoreline, it was the openness with which James Collins, an international footballer, admitted he had a stinker.
Within minutes of the final whistle he’d apologised to fans via Twitter:
His refreshing honesty gained mostly sympathy from fans despite the heavy defeat and his words went viral across the world.
Earlier this season we saw another high profile case of a footballer’s Tweets causing controversy with England International Darren Bent. Frustrated by his perceived stalling in allowing his move to Sunderland by his then Chairman Daniel Levy, he posted:
“Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go Stoke NO.
“Do I wanna go Sunderland YES. So stop f*****g around, Levy.”
Now I’m not condoning Bent’s actions but it’s interesting to hear genuine, unfiltered, unspun and most definitely non-sponsor friendly thoughts of our top class footballers.
In the modern game where fans feel disconnected to their heroes on the pitch and page after page of newspapers are devoted to describing in every detail their millionaire lifestyle, Twitter offers an unfettered insight what players really think and feel. It’s this interaction and engagement that fans crave – insight beyond the ‘what’s your favourite meal’ question in the matchday programme. It’s all too rare to get as players are shielded by the clubs, their agents and often a publicist too.
Of course not every Club welcomes this level of interaction. Manchester United has recently ordered stars including Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs to hsut down their accounts on the micro-blogging site.
Like much content on social media, and on the football pitch, sometimes players tweets are ugly and often it’s banal but at least it’s genuine and it may just help to rebuild bridges between fans and players. Now that would be a shock result.