The game at West Brom at the weekend was one to stir a wide range of emotions but as Chelsea legend Pat Nevin writes in his latest column, moments of fan frustration should only be taken so far…
The temptation after watching the first half at West Brom on Sunday was to think is this really happening? The way they seemed to score every time they got near our goal was bordering on surreal at one point. Frank Lampard will be the first to admit we didn’t help ourselves with a catalogue of errors, but once in a blue moon that sort of day can happen.As I stared blankly ahead into space after that first 45 minutes, like every other Chelsea fan, I honestly feared this could go the same way in the second half, it was that bizarre. I can vividly recall playing in a game for the Blues at QPR many years ago and they beat us 6-0, but we were a far better team than them! How could that happen? It didn’t seem to matter what we did, the entire afternoon just carried on with every chance they got they scored and every mistake our defence made they punished. Halves and sometimes entire games can go like that.Following on from the previous league game last week against Liverpool, I could understand why Chelsea fans were upset at what was happening at the Hawthorns. I can’t recall being as utterly frustrated at a match for years myself. There was a lack of zip about the play in that first period, but even so we got into good positions, particularly via Reece James’ right boot. We made great chances, but infuriatingly missed them when you just knew that if they were up the other end, they would have been converted.
Even before the first half was over, I was already fuming with the referee for allowing such blatant time wasting by the home side, which then went to even more extreme levels in the second half. Of course we had over 75 per cent of the possession but that just made it all the more frustrating as the oppo packed out their defence. In short, I like every Chelsea fan was very annoyed at the performance, and not unreasonably so. I was however still shocked at something I then saw when I looked down at my phone.Watching the half-time show via The 5th Stand app, I could not believe the level of vitriol that came through from a number of alleged ‘Chelsea fans’ on the comments line below Jason and the lads chatting. Now everyone has a right to an opinion and indeed the right to voice that opinion. I have no problem with that. There was a lot of understandable frustration and anger, but some of the comments levelled at some of our players and staff took my breath away.Of course it wasn’t all the contributors, many were much more measured in their frustration, and I even told myself that maybe some of the worst comments must be coming from trolls from other clubs. But the offensiveness of quite a few of the comments was way beyond what a true fan and lover of the club would post. They were also disrespectful to a level that no decent person should post in general, never mind to people at the club you support.I just hope some of our players, including some of the younger ones, do not scroll through what those people had written about them, when admittedly consumed by anger. It could have an extremely detrimental effect on them.
Of course, by the end we managed to battle back for a point, which although impressive from being 3-0 down, didn’t fill everyone with utter joy. Like Frank, we are well aware that it was two points dropped. Oh yes, and even some of the things written about Frank and particularly the language used, just about broke my heart, considering what that guy has done for this club over the years.
In the second half he made changes and obviously they worked, which they usually do with Frank. Callum Hudson-Odoi came on and his pace, intelligence and liveliness spooked the West Brom defence right away. His goal was a cracker following Mason Mount’s earlier stunner. Frank then made changes at the end bringing Olivier Giroud on, which led to space being created for Tammy Abraham to net the equaliser.You all know this, but were the same people who were abusing our playing and coaching staff on an official Chelsea forum at half-time making amends at the end? Even if they were, it still doesn’t make the vile comments right in my eyes.So why write about this now? Well I dislike the idea of the offence caused. I think we as Chelsea fans should be more respectful. By all means say player A is having a stinker/nightmare and you can even point out you do not rate a member of the team, but there is a huge jump then up to hatred and what sounds like hate speech, that we should not accept.I also do not like supporters of our rivals glorying in this sort of behaviour and the posting of these extreme comments by ‘Chelsea fans’ on our platform. Spurs are our next opponents and they would love our players to be affected by our own fans in any negative way.This was never the way with Chelsea fans. When we lost that game 6-0, every single Chelsea fan kept supporting us all the way, because they knew we needed it for the next games coming up. To be fair to the current fan base in the stadium, they always know when the team needs them, when things are going badly and they do their level best to get behind the team at these trying times. As a player I knew how important the backing of the fans could be. Right now, while our real passionate fans cannot be allowed in the stadium, the best we can do is get behind the team when they need us. The very least we can do is not fire volleys of vile abuse in their direction, even online.
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