As some of you reading this will know, my latest (and now most infamous) article was posted on The Boot Room. It was a piece on Paul Pogba’s potential move to Man City this summer and, before reading any furher, you might want to read it here to put the rest of this blog in some sort of context.
I knew within minutes of the post going live that I had struck on something. My Twitter feed was flooded with unhappy Man City fans calling me out for some of the views expressed in the piece. One of them suggested that it is part of intellectual debate for someone to defend their views when challenged and so, to some extent, that’s what I’m going to do now.
I should start by saying that, contrary to the belief of many of those who commented on the piece, I have no allegiance to any English team and, particularly, to Manchester United. Some felt that the Pogba article was written with the intention of deliberately winding City fans up from this view point but I can say with all honesty, that was never the intention. I should further state at this point that I have no particularly negative feelings towards City as a club.
What I think has been misconstrued in the reading of the article is the actual point I was trying to make. The article is not a direct attack on City as a club, but more of a comment in general on the direction football is heading in. It is actually more questioning of Pogba and other young players’ motivations in modern football than it is a piece about City being ‘evil’ or anything of the sort.
This brings me to one point about my original article that I must concede on. It has been pointed out to me by numerous fans that the clubs I described as being more desirable are as money driven as any clubs in world football – and in today’s game, that is a point I accept. No club could remain at the top of the footballing world without money, a point I did acknowledge in my original piece when I said that Pogba would ‘hardly be on the breadline’ signing for any of them.
Another point I must concede is my poor use of the phrase ‘so little history’. I accept that Man City have a proud and long history in English football. What would have been more accurate for me to say in making the point I was trying to make is that, in my opinion, money would be the motivating factor going to City when compared to the other clubs chasing Pogba. Not even the most die hard City fan could deny that Barca, Real Madrid, FC Bayern or any of the others mentioned have a footballing pedigree that City or, for that matter, any other club would struggle to match.
The final point I will concede on is saying Pogba would possibly be better going to Chelsea. While I acknowledge Chelsea were effectively doing 10 years ago what City are doing now, my point was that right now, today, Pogba is probably more likely to win trophies under a Blues team lead by Jose Mourinho than he is at City or any other club in England.
To any City fans reading this, I accept my original piece may have been poorly worded and ignorant in some places but I hope a little more detailed explanation of some of my points, as well as being able to admit certain parts of it where I was wrong will go some way to explaining my view point a little more clearly. I am, of course, addressing those City fans who engaged with me over social media in a reasonable and calm manner, explaining why they felt I was wrong and giving valid explanations as to why.
I am not addressing those City fans who took the opportunity, having read the piece, to do nothing but abuse me both personally and from the point of view of my writing.
Let’s take each of those points individually. Firstly, criticising my writing is well within your rights. Given that I am not, and never will be, a professional football writer, the standard of my writing is bound to fall short at times. This is not, however, an excuse to berate my intelligence or make remarks to that effect as, since you know nothing about me other than the small amount of my time I dedicate to writing about the sport I love, you have no right to judge me in that way.
Now on to the other insults – those of a personal nature. I had always considered myself a robust and thick-skinned individual. However, when the attacks from some fans left the footballing realm and entered the personal one, commenting on my looks and accessing my personal social media accounts, that is where a line was crossed. And so I say this to anyone reading this – FOOTBALL IS JUST SPORT. It is not life or death. And clubs are not, like one fan put to me, part of you and your family. No criticism of your club is any excuse to bully someone, or to entice others to do so. And if you believe it is, then I feel sorry for you.
I accept the Pogba piece was more opinion than fact. To that end, I guess there are two main lessons that this whole incident has taught me. First and foremost, if I’m going to write a piece with the potential to divide, I should be more descriptive in explaining some of those points. Secondly, I should probably not leave myself so open to having contradictions pointed out, something I accept was bound to happen as a result of the piece that was published.