Just as football has evolved over the last three decades, so have the football fans.
When once English stadiums were full of loud, chanting mobs of passionate supporters, now they are also home to the quiet, analytical game watchers. These football fans do not go to games to sing and dance and cheer on their team. Instead, they go to games to watch, take in every detail and then discuss it later.
It is a by-product of the digital era and the in-depth analysis that is widely available. The likes of Sky Sports Monday Night Football has given birth to a fan who wants to watch live football in the same way.
No longer do they want to sing and dance; now they want to analyse. It is something the old crowd, those who do want to passionately support their team, do not like.
Head over to social media after most games and there will be some complaining about the atmosphere. Almost every game day, chants of “is this a library” can be heard emanating from the away section. Some of the home crowd probably want to answer ‘yes it is’.
As far as some are concerned, those that don’t try to whip up an atmosphere are not a proper fan. The fact is, though, it is perfectly fine to be the kind of fan that doesn’t get super enthusiastic.
What doesn't help either is anfield every 3 o'clock game their is terrible atmosphere not one song sang today absolute joke
— #FreeVanDijk (@adamgottalent) September 16, 2017
Football is no longer followed by one distinct group with one distinct preference of how they watch their football. It is a complex, multicultural group with a variety of preferences. They’ve paid for their ticket and they have every right to watch and celebrate in any way they want.
The fact they do not want to be part of the singing crowd does not make them less of a fan. Indeed, there is an argument to the contrary.
These fans arguably see and know more about their team than those that don’t. They can tell you more about its weaknesses, strengths and everything in between because they have spent their time at the game watching and learning about these things. It’s an argument the so-called ‘armchair fans’ have been making for years.
That is not to say football fans who sing and chant are stupid but how much of the game do they actually take in? The truth of the matter is, it’s very little.
Timo Werner after Beşiktaş: "I have never seen such an atmosphere in my life. I could not focus on the match. I still do not feel well.” pic.twitter.com/7IvSm4U0lq
— Turkish Football (@Turkish_Futbol1) September 27, 2017
Ask any player, former or present, and they will tell you that a loud, passionate home crowd can often be the difference in some games. There’s plenty of evidence to show they can turn a game on its head.
But wanting fans to solely be a singing and dancing mob is a stupid, out-dated idea. And the brutal truth is this, as more and more analysis enters the game, the number of such fans is only likely to grow. Those football fans who continually complain about them need to get over it.