Wilson Palacios turned in the season’s worst performance against Liverpool. Other than unloading a cavalcade of woeful, inaccurate passes, our former midfield general lost 50-50s to the famously limp Lucas, lost every forward run made by a red shirt and lost any scrap of confidence he might have had. However, did he really deserve the ironic, mocking cheers select fans chose to give him?
I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of gunning for our own. Ramon Vega was the first one for me. The second game of the ’98-99 season saw us lose 3-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday, with Vega the ringleader in the terribleness. The booing was so bad, Sol Campbell started jumping up and down furiously, pleading with the fans to stop. I often wondered if that was a moment where Campbell numbed his feelings towards the support. I joined in that day, (I was 15, in my defence), and while I’ve done my best to stifle moaning ever since, Ramon certainly isn’t the only Spur to hear us fans turn.
A mention of Wilson’s treatment on Twitter drew a few immediate responses. The fag-end of Chris Armstrong’s Spurs career was met with some fairly robust derision, reminded one friend. Another recalled Young Pyo-Lee’s meltdown against Manchester United leaving the crowd baying for blood, before ten minutes later guiltily chanting the poor Korean’s name. And I think it’s probably best we all forget the response that met Grzegorz Rasiak’s efforts at White Hart Lane.
But is this treatment acceptable? Or beneficial? Booing the team off at half time is one thing, but singling out a player for special treatment is quite another. In Wilson’s case, there are, of course, extenuating circumstances for his form. He lost his brother in horrific circumstances last year. He’s a player that needs to get into a rhythm but is frequently benched. He’s got a younger, almost identical player gunning for him. He’s also playing in a team overloaded with pretty, intricate ballplayers. When he – or fellow possession gifter Alan Hutton - makes an errant pass, it’s all the more obvious. He may never recapture the tigerish form that endeared him to us all on arrival, but the guy’s struggling for a reason.
We all pay excellent and hard-earned money to watch our team, and we expect their utmost as a result. But mocking a player who visually requires a lift feels cruel. I doubt Palacios vowed to fight harder when he heard the ironic cheers: he probably just felt humiliated and slunk further into his shell. Ultimately, the players thrive of our support just as much as we thrive off their moments of genius.
So, which players have you voiced your disapproval towards? Do you regret it? And did Wilson deserve his ironic cheers?