We Need to Talk

Before I start some may find this article controversial and a degree insulting, but it is something that needs to be addressed. Our home fans have been nothing short of awful for a minimum of 18 months. The ferocious atmosphere that was once associated with the Britannia Stadium is gone. Replaced with a hostile environment where any poor performance will be harshly criticised from the stands, whereas good performances are met with muted appreciation.

Let’s start on positive note, the away fans. The Potters who travel around the country do so in fine voice and represent the club excellently (on a whole). Constant chanting irrelevant of the result, and encouraging players to perform rather than criticising their mistakes is the norm. We travel fantastically, with nearly 3000 fans making the 163 mile trip up north to Middlesbrough last weekend. Clearly this is helped by the free coach travel, and the board have to be commended for keeping to this pledge.

But back to the issue at hand, the awful home “support”. Obviously at times the Brit has been bouncing over these recent 18 months, but these have been an anomaly. We need to be rid of the expectant atmosphere that surrounds the club, and acknowledge that as fans we have a role to play in the team’s performance. Yes we are attempting to progress forward to the European places, but this does not entitle us as fans to sit back and expect the team to create the atmosphere in the ground. Our aims will certainly not be met if fans continue to attack, criticise and demotivate players who they perceive to be performing poorly.

Instead it is more valuable to support a player who is struggling and in a rut. The best example of how supporting a player improves performance is our mercurial winger Marko Arnautovic. Many times we see Arnie beating himself up for making a mistake (figuratively, not literally like Jamie Vardy). And one thing always brings him back into the game, a roar from the crowd, normally causing the Austrian to sprint back down the line to dispossess the full back who tackled him earlier. This treatment should be afforded to all players, as it will certainly improve performance.

I understand that many fans can feel angered at a bad performance, and obviously there is nothing wrong with feeling this but expressing this anger is best left to after the match. Inside the ground we owe support to the players and to encourage them to perform to the best of their abilities.

The other element we need to see return is the ‘The Bear Pit’, a cauldron of loud passionate fans who want nothing more than their team to be victorious. The atmosphere is currently one of quiet expectance, we wait to be entertained and once a goal has been scored the atmosphere picks up only to peter out into near silence once again. In the past we have scared teams into losing even before the match kicks off, yet now we let the away fans dominate and often urge their team to success.

It is undeniable that our home form has dwindled of late, and it has done so at the same time as home support has decreased in volume and quality. The two are clearly related, and it will come at no loss to the fans to attempt and bring back this atmosphere to help improve performances. For the good of the club we need that atmosphere, our title of the loudest fans is in crisis and winning it back should be our main aim this season. So come on let’s turn the bet365 into our new Bear Pit!

So what do you think? Any solutions to the problem? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

Written by Tom Thrower

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