It’s why I struggle to write anything coherent about the game because I’m getting drawn into the web of negativity and feeling inclined to respond, hit back and get worked up. I’ve always embraced the swell in crowds and the push its given us going forward, but were these people lashing out all over the place really following the club closely when we signed Craig Hobson? I can’t think they were, I certainly never remembered him getting such abuse as John and he scored far fewer goals both from the spot or from open play.
I;’m also sick of defending John, much the same as other League Two defenders are but that’s something most fans miss. I chatted to a County friend last night who was delighted with the job they did on the big man. ‘We put two on him at all times’ was his response when asked about him. ‘It kept him quiet for most of the game but he is always a danger’. That doesn’t mean a goal danger all the time, something some seem to think is what it is all about, but a man who can keep the play in the final third, a man who can create a goal too. Remember, he’s been involved in more of our goals this season than any other player, yet you’d think he’s actively hindered our progress.
I’m getting to a point where I am beginning to question the motivation of some people in disliking John. I’m not saying everyone who has a negative opinion of him has an underlying issue with him, they don’t. People can dislike a player and back it up with reason. I chatted to James Bride this week, a former DF editor and someone who is not an Akinde fan. He has his reasons why and I respect his right to that opinion, but he doesn’t just go online and write ‘Akinde is shit,’ or something equally as insightful. Some people were criticising him in the fifth minute of yesterday’s game; you tell me that’s purely based on performance and I’ll tell you you’re wrong.
The classic exchange happened for me on one of the internet sites last night and it typified the sort of moronic follower we’ve got right now. if this was you and you’re offended with what I say, I make no apology. In fact, if this was you and you’re reading this, please log out because you’re not welcome on my site.
“Angol to start next game? Akinde is awful and doesn’t deserve the shirt,” responded to be “Angol was shit today.”
Wow. Firstly, John Akinde was not awful. Like the other 11 players, he had a tough afternoon but anyone understanding football properly could see he was marked tighter than most. In that respect, his back yup striker should have been far better and wasn’t. Shay was just as ineffective as John and he didn’t have the constant attention of two players. Why is he not being singled out? At least the first comment had Angol down as a viable alternative, but the second guy claiming Angol was shit needs to take himself off to a darkened room for a while. Lee Angol got five minutes. Five minutes.
We talk about being fans and supporting the club but there’s an element that simply don’t do that. There’s an element that still turn up to shout their abuse and generally get mad at the team they’re supposed to support. The sad thing is, fans are now identifying that element as the new support but that’s not the case. Remember Altrincham in the FA Cup a few years ago? Before Ipswich and Oldham, before 8,000 fans at home, before routinely taking 1,00 away? No? Go back and have a read. The sad, repressed element of our support was as evident then as it is right now.
I’ve now written 1600 words on the state of the response to our result, a draw which might not seem decent right now but could be important at the end of the season. We’re into 60 points, we’ve lost one in 14 and we’re top with a game in hand. Everything is still in our hands and Danny Cowley has not let us down in his two and a half years in charge of the club. Our playing squad has got better every transfer window, our league position has got better every season and we’ve grown into a club to be proud of once more.
My fear is this destructive element within can begin to derail the season. The fans who buy in the signing section only to sit down and try to sample the atmosphere, they’re wrong. The ones who think ‘I’ve paid my money so I’ll call Akinde shit’ are wrong. Those arguing with other Imps fans in the terraces, posting rubbish on social media as the game goes on, are wrong. That’s how it is. We’re top and for 90 minutes fans should be supporting the team, not going there prepared to get angry at a player before he’s kicked a ball.
Danny said in his post match interview he knew John would get stick on the internet for missing his penalty and lo and behold, he did. He couldn’t win either could he? Score it and he only scores penalties, miss it and he’s got nothing to offer (apart from leading the line). Within the club, John Akinde is seen as one of the key reasons we’re top, one of the main players in the current set up. He allows us to play the way we do, his mobility and strength gives us options going forward. It allows us to sit deep as we did in the game against Swindon, it allows us to break at pace as we did away at Exeter. He occupies defenders and when everyone is fit he’ll form a deadly partnership with Danny Rowe. If he stays fit, we go up. If he doesn’t, we might struggle. In my opinion and, I’m led to believe’ the opinion of people within the club as well.
Still, Linda from the burger bar knows better doesn’t she? Or Jack, the year nine with a profile picture of himself with fucking bunny ears and rosy red cheeks. Not Danny Cowley, not Nicky Cowley, two men who have brought unprecedented success to the club in a short space of time, two men who have revolutionised the Mighty Imps. What do they know?
It wasn’t a good penalty. I won’t defend it. John didn’t have a great game, nobody did. Why single him out though? Why make our manager believe the first thing he has to do is damage limitation, not just for John Akinde but also when we sign Lee Angol? How long before the dross, not the honest informed opinion, but the utter dross, drives players away? How long before it drives the managers away?
I’m not saying it’ll happen, but I do ask some ‘fans’ to get some perspective.