There aren’t many sets of supporters that could somehow manage to come to the end of a 12 match unbeaten run in a fiery ball of raging debate, but for Tottenham Hotspur fans, we’ve managed to defy the odds once again.
The overwhelmingly stand-out talking points from yesterday’s 3-2 defeat away to Liverpool (if you were wearing white, of course), were undoubtedly the two suicidal spots of defending that gifted Brent-don Rodgers and his boys their equalizing and winning goals respectively. But there was only one man that was dominating discussion.
You can put a Rizla paper between who made the most catastrophic error out of Jermain Defoe, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker yesterday, but it was the latter’s kamikaze backpass that really put a bee in most of our bonnets yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately for those who were less than pleased by our right-back’s display, apparently we’re not allowed to voice much in the way of discontent.
Indeed, right on cue, the merry-men amongst the Spurs support dead-set on forming something resembling a human shield around our Kyle were out in force, lamenting and belittling those who dared have the audacity to question his performance yesterday.
“We’re part of a family!” they cried. “We support our players, not drive them into the ground!” The last thing we’d want would be for poor old Kyle to have to suspend his Twitter account, right?
First thing’s first, there is a line and some Spurs ‘fans’ most certainly crossed it yesterday. For those who went to the lengths of peppering Walker’s Twitter account with foul and vile abuse, please pack up, go home and disassociate yourself with Tottenham Hotspur. If you don’t have the brain capacity to understand why you shouldn’t be doing that, then words fail, they really do.
But for those taking offense at the contingent of Spurs fans that were offering what was a pretty well bloody justified critique of his performance yesterday, the question remains simply, why?
Back in October, following another lackluster and below-par showing during the 4-2 loss to Chelsea, the calls weren’t too dissimilar to what they were now. Don’t give the boy stick, give him support, that’s exactly what he needs. And overall, that’s exactly what he’s received from our fans and what he will continue to receive.
Yet nearly five months on and what’s really changed?
This isn’t a call to boo him or throw him dogs abuse, of course not. But for those suggesting that we cannot even criticize him for what continues to be a woefully disappointing season, the logic just doesn’t make sense. Because yesterday’s mistake wasn’t out of the ordinary – it was very much par for the course for Walker’s 2012-13 season. Back in October we were talking about him ironing out mistakes and giving him time to get up to speed. We’re now nearly mid-way through March.
There was a man Walker was playing against yesterday who has found himself in a similar position in recent weeks. Daniel Agger has come in for his fair share of stick, some of it particularly severe following his nightmare performance in the 2-0 home defeat to West Brom.
But he didn’t throw his toys out the pram and quit Twitter, nor did he require a section of the fans to fight his corner. Shock horror, Agger actually took the criticism head on, faced up to his own issues and vowed to kick on and would you believe it; he’s actually pulled his finger out in recent weeks.
When it’s fair, due and deserved, criticism – like praise – is a vitally important aspect of self-improvement in any occupation. How you deal with it, as both Agger and Walker have contrastingly shown, is perhaps just as important.
No one with an affinity to Spurs should be showering Kyle Walker with abuse. But in the same vein, they shouldn’t be showering him with blind faith, either. In the wake of yesterday’s defeat, maybe we could all do with reminding ourselves of that.