DANNY MURPHY: We are breeding a generation of snowflake players

DANNY MURPHY: Eric Dier should NOT have confronted abusive Tottenham fan… we are breeding a generation of snowflake players

  • Eric Dier should have known better than to confront an abusive supporter
  • It is part of a footballer’s job to ignore those fans who dish out verbal criticism
  • Top players refuse to stoop to their level and work hard to prove them wrong

As a footballer, I heard a lot of things from fans they shouldn’t be shouting. I caught a lot of stuff about my mum, my wife, my kids. But you still don’t go into the crowd, full stop.

Like Eric Dier, I was in the privileged position of representing a wonderful club in Tottenham and though it might sound harsh to non-players, if you aren’t capable of listening to verbals at that level, you need to have a chat with yourself.

I should stress at this point I’m not talking about racist or homophobic comments because, besides being totally unacceptable, both of those pose a wider threat to society compared to something personal.

Eric Dier should not have confronted a fan after Tottenham’s FA Cup defeat by Norwich

My mum didn’t come to see me play because she heard someone have a go at me. It was a personal choice and I didn’t try to dissuade her. We have to be careful not to kill the freedom of fans to pay their money and verbally criticise if they feel the need.

Hopefully, if there is foul or abusive language, the family will have someone within their group to tell them to pipe down. 

I’m not saying fans should have free rein to abuse but I don’t think it is a player’s job to act as a policeman and intervene when they could make things worse.

As a footballer you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth and keep moving forwards

I never had a team-mate march into the stands like Dier but Jamie Carragher did once throw a coin back into the crowd against Arsenal.

Of course, it was totally wrong for someone to throw an object on to the pitch but I think even Jamie would agree now that responding like that, and potentially injuring an innocent party himself, wouldn’t have helped. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

I’m not aware of the specifics of what caused Dier to get into his confrontation after the Norwich game but it didn’t look as if his brother was a 12-year-old kid being set about by a group of thugs.

I suspect there was a lot of ill-feeling going around the stadium after being knocked out of the FA Cup. His brother, who is not a child, had a dig back at a critical supporter, and something inside Eric snapped.

I was booed off the pitch once for Liverpool, but I bounced back and scored at Man United

My attitude was shout what you want, I will turn you around with my performances. I was booed off the pitch once for Liverpool, the club I loved but didn’t moan, even though I was devastated. I took it on the chin and scored against Manchester United the following week.

I’m sorry, I just don’t get Eric going up there like a loose cannon. I don’t believe players should take it upon themselves to have a ding-dong with fans. If your family go to a game, and aren’t in a private box, make sure there is someone within the party to look after the situation. It’s not that difficult.

There is a belief fans’ behaviour is worse than ever. I don’t think so — the same issues have always been there. If supporters go to the match as a break from the other difficulties of life, they do view it as a place where they can vent frustrations. As a footballer, get on with the game, do your job.

And let me make it crystal-clear again, I am not talking about the issue of racial abuse.

Granit Xhaka is another player who should’ve remained professional when fans turned on him

I speak as someone who heard horrible things. It stopped my mum going. But it’s my belief players have to be a little more resolute in dealing with the downsides of football.

I’m thinking of Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling complaining about referee Jon Moss because he felt he’d made sarcastic and disrespectful comments during the game. I’m thinking of Granit Xhaka who cupped his ear and mouthed a swearword to the crowd when they booed him. Now Eric has got involved with fans because his brother didn’t like what they were saying.

If snowflake means being over-sensitive to offence, this generation of footballers is in danger of falling into the category.

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