I don’t really want to write about this, because I don’t want to be part of the problem.
But, it’s pre-season and we’re not playing until Thursday or signing new players… and it probably needs to be said.
Have Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels reached a point where they’re so toxic they should be rendered utterly pointless by clubs and players?
Obviously, clubs run these official accounts as it’s hugely important for their brand; for the number of eyes on their product. For the sponsors. Players similarly make a fortune from social media through advertising deals but bar the financial benefit (and it’s not like they really need that particular boost given the wages), what is the point?
In fairness, players like Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson have used their presence to do good. To promote causes, charities and make a difference, but for the vast majority, it’s simply an open forum for them to receive direct praise, abuse or utter nonsense from ‘football fans’ all over the world.
I italicise that word because it isn’t your fan in the traditional sense of the word. It’s your modern fan, who don’t go to matches and seem to get more pleasure from transfer rumours or shooting down rivals than winning matches. Everyone is a fraud. Everyone is ‘washed’.
And this summer, it’s got really weird. Darwin Nunez must not know what’s hit him… The lad has played two 30-minute cameos in meaningless pre-season friendlies and has been the subject of jokes, memes, bullying and compilation videos that have gone viral ten times over.
He’s played an hour of football in Liverpool red. Two thirds of a full match. He’s unfit, because it’s pre-season. He can’t speak the language and is getting up to speed physically and tactically in terms of his integration with new team-mates and a new style.
Nunez has done nothing wrong. There’s nothing to even analyse. It’s pre-season. It doesn’t matter.
Jurgen Klopp will have told, as will his Liverpool team-mates and those close to him, to ignore the idiotic comments. But it’s tough. He’s a young guy. Young guys spend lots of time on their phones. He’s gone from 50,000 Twitter followers to 350,000 Twitter followers. Let’s be honest, if thousands of people were talking about you, you’d have a look as well, wouldn’t you?
And clearly Nunez has, given his, again viral, response to the rubbish.
Resiliencia 🤫 pic.twitter.com/e90QJAdpc7
— Darwin Núñez (@Darwinn99) July 15, 2022
But he shouldn’t have to be resilient to anything. Again, he’s played an hour of pre-season friendlies. Why should he be batting away the haters before he’s started the season? It’s insane. Before he’d even played a minute, a clip of him missing a shot in a training session had also gone viral. Just think about how ridiculous that is and the pressure put on someone to hit the ground running via social media.
Liverpool fans are no better.
A clip of Erling Haaland missing from close-range in a training session has been found, dubbed with the Benny Hill theme-tune and has ‘broken in the internet’. God, it’s boring, isn’t it?
Lisandro Martinez, Manchester United’s new signing, has been castigated for being 5ft. 9′. He hasn’t played yet, but he’s being mercilessly bullied, judged and written off as a result.
Lisandro Martinez vs Haaland, Nunez and Kane this season pic.twitter.com/9HkTboC7cA
— Lewis 🌊 (@LewYNWA) July 17, 2022
You can definitely see why footballers use agencies to run their accounts. It makes them faceless, bland and sound like PR pitches, but at least they have a barrier between them and the abuse.
If I were Liverpool right now, I’d advise Nunez to put the phone down or get somebody else to look after his account, as it’ll be doing him no good whatsoever.
People will say these players get paid huge amounts of money and that it’s simply part of the job and they should be strong enough to deal with it. It doesn’t matter what you’re on, if on your first day at a new job you were messaged by literally thousands of people telling you how shite you were going to be at said job, aged 23, it would have an effect.
Social media has always been a little toxic but it feels like it’s really ramped up a notch this summer. It’s funny as plenty online preach about mental health and there seems to more of an acceptance that men and women, young and old, should speak about their problems and be kind to one another – but this seems to go out of the window when talking about footballers. It’s like they stop being people and become objects of amusement.
No team is worse than another. Every one of them attached to a big club has hundreds of thousands of teenagers who torment famous people for entertainment. It’s weird, but it’s become very normalised.
It’ll hopefully get better when the season starts. At least there’s football games to speak about, then. But it would be nice if the summer away from footy felt like an actual break and not just a cauldron of vapidity.