Social media abuse might go too far but managers are still fair game for online criticism

Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has hit back at the abuse received by former teammates Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Steve Bruce.

“Lowest of the low”, “cesspit” and “some of the most disgusting things I have ever read or seen in my whole life."

Just a few of the key words and phrases from former England and Manchester United defender Phil Neville who has been hitting back at the social media abuse football managers receive.

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Current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær and former Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, both former teammates of Neville, are just the latest in a long line of gaffers to have the full force of the worst parts of the online world aimed directly at them.

The former England Women’s national team manager, now in charge at Inter Miami, is not wrong in his assessment at some of the appalling abuse that can be directed towards individuals but some of his other comments to seem to go wide of the mark.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, which can be read in full HERE, he hones in on the sicking personal comments which have been directed to his peers and makes the perfectly valid and eloquent points such as: “People don't probably realise that the things they are writing hurt families, hurt human beings, people that have problems in their lives, and nothing gets done about it."

Quite right Phil, far too many simply don’t realise the impact a message can have or perhaps do and that’s why they choose to be so spiteful - those people really are the “worst of the worst” when it comes to social media posting.

Unfortunately though, the mask of righteousness slips at times and we can see the all to familiar patronising gate-keeping when it comes to allowing those outside the football bubble to voice their opinions.

While some of his comments hit the nail on the head, others such as the following come across as slightly tone deaf: “If you were any other workplace and you walked into a shop and you said, 'I want you to be sacked', I think you would be reported to the police.”

As if it wasn’t obvious before, the career professional has never worked a day in the retail sector in his life where staff can face torrid abuse from customers on a near daily basis with little repercussion for those verbally, and occasionally even physically, attacking them.

“I think the sensationalism of everything now is just out of control,” he continued... an interesting choice of wording there for sure when referring to United’s humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool last weekend.

“It's not as if United have never lost 5-0. The only difference was there was not a billion people on Twitter thinking they knew best about this, that and the other."

There it is, seen coming at us from a mile away, the classic hit back of “the fans don’t know what’s good for them”.

Neville is absolutely spot on that far too many people go far too far with their criticism online but that doesn’t make it right to take away the fact that, like it or not, social media platforms do provide fans worldwide with the opportunity to voice their displeasure.

After all, Manchester United are a global brand and that’s a fact they are presumably very proud of but how are United fans in Asia, Africa or anywhere else that are unable to regularly attend matches supposed to voice their opinions?

These fans, who buy United merchandise and follow the club from afar, have as much right to their opinions as any other supporter.

There might not have been “a billion people on Twitter” back in the day but that didn’t stop managers receiving criticism by post which was a fairly common occurrence 20 odd years ago.

Like so many other topics of debate today, it’s too easy to fixate on the best or worst of something and then disregard everything to the contrary of your opinion.

If “a billion people on Twitter” are trying to make their voices heard, and let’s once again make no mistake in condemning those that go beyond football to personal attacks, then perhaps there actually is something to be considered there Phil?

By all means, jump to the defence of your friends and peers when they are receiving hateful, personal attacks - we should perhaps all consider calling out this behaviour on a more frequent basis, but don’t dismiss social media as nothing but clueless idiots screaming into a void because what it actually offers is a place for the disgruntled masses to make their feelings clear whether you agree or not.

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