The relationship between players and supporters during matches depends on the occasion, conditions, and the style of football. But how much of an effect can supporters have on players? In the second and final part of this series we continue explaining how we see the relationship between footballers and supporters and the influence the latter has over the former.
The Crowd’s Relationship with an Individual
Crowds often dislike the away team because of certain players. That can be because of fear, love, but it’s rarely because of pure hatred. The crowd doesn’t hate steady performers, who are only doing their job.
Feelings of “hate” are more often shown towards a specific player. A hard tackler, a goal scorer, or a trash talker, can easily cause opposition supporters to express anger or hatred.
The Tottenham Hotspur side that won back-to-back FA Cups in 1981 and 1982 were considered a 'good home team’. Steve Archibald and Glenn Hoddle both played in that Spurs side. One was a trash talker and the other a gentleman.
When watching footage of past football matches, it is easy to notice how players communicate with the crowd, and reciprocally, how the crowd comes alive through everything that is happening on the pitch.
It’s certainly exaggerated to say that success would have been possible without the support of the home crowd.
'In the Moment’
An 'in the moment' can only be experienced through his or her own self by being conscious and observant of your surroundings. You must be able to stimulate your resonance skills and implement them in the right moment.” Eija Makirintala
What could this mean and how an 'in the moment' occurs during a game of football:
Everything goes right
We did not think of anything
We played calmly, passionately, and our passes were on target
We played as a team and enjoyed every moment
It was a shame when the game ended. I would have wanted to keep playing. Oh yeah, and we won.
During an 'in the moment' it’s not possible to get ahead of yourself. It’s not a moment where we think of three points or the time remaining in the match. The player always lives and breathes an ‘in the moment’.
"The more attentive and transparent we are about our environment and ourselves, the more flexible we can operate in the present and the better we can take advantage of the situations that arise. By tuning into a good internal 'in the moment' state, and by directing our attentiveness, we can guide it to the environment we are reacting to and how we do it." Eija Makirintala
The player is not on the pitch alone. He is constantly interacting with teammates, just as they do with the crowd, the manager and opposition players.
From the team’s point of view, it's important how and when the player reacts. The manager’s ideal player responds well when ‘in the moment’, having gained strength from the support of the crowd.
If a player reacts badly to the crowd, the moment is lost and they will end up like RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner against Beşiktaş in the Champions League.
It’s good to identify the players who get fired up before and during big matches. It can be said that such players love the crowd and vice versa. Sometimes we forget why football is played in front of crowds and why people come to watch and support.
The crowd wants to be 'in the moment’, when they empower their team. The crowd resonates and buzzes throughout the match, and they bring home stories after every game.