I am sitting on a Sunday morning agreeing with Joey Barton – not just regarding the running of Newcastle Football club but also of his own interpretation of footballer’s on Twitter. “It’s quite worrying that a man who use to run casino’s is now making footballing decisions”. The world of Social media now controls the interaction between club and fan & journalist and reader, so it wasn’t long before the professionals got in on the act. The QPR midfielder’s justification for starting his account, was to clarify stories in the press from journo’s about his life off and on the pitch, and perhaps deny or comment on them so his supporters could see the real Barton. You wouldn’t be a fool for thinking that the relationship between the two may have mirrored his previous idiocracy on nights out & training pitches, but Joey Barton has reinvented himself on the site. He has shown more depth, intelligence and level-headedness than any of us have witnessed from him on a Saturday afternoon – and as well as football issues, he has tackled “The Big Society”, backed a petition campaign for the Hillsborough disaster and tried to analyze the psyche of the rioters in England just a month or so back. Which is all good and well…..but when can footballers and tweets go awry? As well as Barton putting the death knell in his Newcastle career by questioning the whereabouts of the Andy Caroll bullion there is also this example….
“Was fit and available for selection. Don’t know why I wasn’t picked but gotta work hard to get back in!!!”
This was Kris Commons following the weekend’s defeat at Ibrox. There are some good points from this message, mainly that he feels fit and also that he will work hard to try to regain his place – but the ins and outs of his non selection are in the managers head until he, and only he feels the need to air them. Neil Lennon has now went on record on a few occasions after Sunday to explain certain decisions and the tweet was not omitted from questioning ”He is obviously frustrated he was left out of the squad and I accept that but won’t make a massive issue of that,I’d have preferred it to be kept in-house, but this is the modern way of it – social networking seems to be the way forward.” So even @NeilLennon sees the benefits!! I don’t think the issue would have plagued me as much if the midfielder had started the season the way he had played since joining – and major concerns over his fitness and derriere haven’t been helped by drinking copious amounts of lager on a boys golfing holiday. So hopefully talk of fall outs with management and dietary issues are going to be put to one side in the coming weeks when Kris can back up his tweet with some performances on the pitch.
There are now twenty-eight youth, former and current Celtic players on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/walshybhoy/celtic-players/members) all bringing their own aspects of life to the online community. The type of interaction can range from their feelings or arrangements before a match, family occasions, and interests and hobbies out with the beautiful game. This instant interaction is like e-manna for mere mortals like us who idolize players, a glimpse or even a re-tweet can make someones day just like an autograph or picture outside the training ground. Just yesterday I was left amazed when John Hartson read my cousin’s blog – and then to add to it, he also replied as he had gone through a similar experience – this kind of relationship would previously be a one in a million shot and cannot be undervalued. Thankfully this group of online Celts’ has not muddied the waters with the fans and everything so far has been extremely good-natured – this good nature can also extend to their involvement with charity ventures, and their retweets and endorsements can add so much to not only affiliated club charities, but ones close to their own and supporters hearts.
It’s hard to imagine what the reaction of past stars’ antics would have with their followers – Paolo Di Canio’s “leetle problem”, Eyal Berkovic’s hand gesture to the Jock Stein Stand or even the intellectual musings of Eric Cantona after his kung-fu attack at Selhurst Park. Many managers and owners have questioned players involvement on the site, but in a day & age when the gap between the working class fan and board level hierarchy is ever-widening its refreshing for the fan to still be within tweeting distance.