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Aston Villa fans boo, Martin O'Neill criticises supporters, is this a thin line?

You have to understand that I'm a fan of Martin O'Neill but he can't, regardless of the circumstances, come out and criticise the supporters at Villa Park.

In my opinion, booing the team is wrong, it creates a negative feeling but you don't come out and talk about it or respond in such a way that it could even be seen as criticising supporters. Certainly not after recent results and actions.

It's a message from the supporters, not one they want to be giving, but most people seem to have been saying the same thing for several weeks and we're worried as to why Martin O'Neill hasn't done anything before and during and after the games.

David O'Leary made the mistake of calling us fans fickle and it's something that he will always get tagged with now, even though for the most part, he wasn't wrong. The thing is, you just don't ever say it out loud.

There are some things that are just never said publicly and calling the fans fickle is one of them. Criticising the supporters for booing the team is another. It's not very nice, but it's a message and the thing is, if enough are doing it so it can be heard, rather than criticise the supporters, maybe someone should think about why they are hearing it.

Look, I'm not supporting fans cheering the Gabby substitution or the booing at the end of the game, but all teams have supporters that are going to boo. Just a couple of weeks ago they were doing at the Emirates, I've heard it at Chelsea this season and well, I don't need to write this down, there isn't a football stadium in the land that hasn't had the team booed off before.

He is a local lad who has come through the ranks. He might give the impression from a distance that he has a bit of a swagger, that he doesn't care, but that is so far from the truth. He was lacking in confidence towards the end of the game but that was the only reason I took him off and the reaction of the fans was more than disappointing.

I have got to tell you that is no way to treat him after what he has done here. I can put up with many other things but that was uncalled for and people have short memories. I've always said if you pay your money you can do what you want but that sort of thing doesn't help anybody.
Martin O'Neill, March 15th 2009

Some would say booing is counter productive, I sort of fall into that group, but others will say that it's a way of getting the view of the masses across and hopefully next time they leave the pitch it will be to applause, working extra hard so to not get booed again. I don't agree with that, but I can fully understand it and can hold my hands up and say that I've come close. I can also never say never with it, as opinions are allowed to change.

But like Martin O'Neill says, if you pay your money you can have your say, he can't really have it both ways. These footballers are too protected these days and because Gabby is a local lad, maybe he needs this kick up the backside to know how the local fans feel about some of his performances of late.

He is more than adequately compensated to work thirty hours a week and if we like it or not, booing has been part of the game since day one and is something a player or team have to accept as possible - it's their job to make sure it doesn't happen.

So, now I've got to change the title of this post as it's sort of turned into something else - it was supposed to be my overall opinion of yesterday, which I'm going to sum up quickly now.

I wasn't really surprised with the result and we're in a slump. The thing is, this slump has to end soon, we just have to quickly figure out how to, so it's just a case of waiting.

I'm not going to get too negative about the football but something has to change - which is maybe why some of the fans cheered when Gabby got subbed yesterday. Not because it has to be Gabby, but it was about time, but like a former manager made clear, it doesn't take much to change the booing into applause - do that and Gabby will be happy again, walking with his swagger and picking up his £40k a week.