After yet another embarrassing performance and result for the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, it is understandable that fans need somewhere to vent, and did so by taking to social media in their droves. They weren't alone with venting however, as Antoine Hoppenot lost his marbles and decided to tweet this:
If you can't support us in our time of need, don't bother coming back when we start winning again— Antoine Hoppenot (@AntoineHoppenot) May 10, 2015
We all care just as much if not more than you do, we're all affected by it, we all need to get through it together— Antoine Hoppenot (@AntoineHoppenot) May 10, 2015
And lastly this:
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the passion, I'm a Philly fan thru and thru, I get the frustration, but let's turn it around together— Antoine Hoppenot (@AntoineHoppenot) May 10, 2015
On one hand he is absolutely correct. The players are absolutely feeling the same frustrations as the fans. There isn't a single player on the Union (well, maybe everyone except Rais M'Bolhi) who thinks things are going well. Yes they may say different things in interviews but they won't be happy.
It is also fair to say that the fair-weather fans, those that just turn up when things are going well, aren't necessarily fans who you want to follow the team (unless you are Nick Sakiewicz who will take money from everyone). While you can argue about whether real fans are those that blindly follow, have constructive criticism or just go and boo everything to do with a struggling team, those fans still turn up and still support the team in their own way. They aren't the fans that decide to go and support the Red Bulls because they win things.
However, for every correct point Antoine made, the timing of the tweets are what makes them stupid. Emotions are high, disgust is fresh in the memory and when fans are being criticized they are going to lash out at Hoppenot even more, as he found out:
@AntoineHoppenot STFU.— Bill Sandone (@bsandone) May 10, 2015
There were lots of outcry about the tweets, too much to list here. However, players having a go at fans isn't something that is new in Philadelphia Union history. Remember this?
Call for coach Hacks head all you want he's our coach and this team will go to war for him we believe even if u don't— Sheanon Williams (@sheanonwilliams) May 15, 2014
There were also occasions where Freddy Adu and Carlos Ruiz have either publicly called out fans, or blamed the fans for being forced to leave. However, one other problem with Antoine's tweet is that it is coming from a player that may never play another minute for the team. If it were Maurice Edu or Raymon Gaddis saying it, maybe fans would have listened.
One thing is for sure: When others have criticized fans, it has either meant they were gone from the Union very quickly, or in Sheanon's case the manager he was standing up for was gone. Does the fact that players are becoming vocal with criticisms and frustrations mean there will be changes coming in terms of management or personnel? Something surely needs to change
Changes can also be made in the front office. There has been a growing amount of complaints from within the Sons of Ben about the front office, with Sack Sak t-shirts popping up in the River End. There are talks of protests along the lines of the blackout protest from the Bearfight Brigade a few games back.
On Saturday night, one Union fan asked this of SOB president Kenny Hanson:
@KennyHansonSoB We're not gonna protest?— Jon⚽️Marks (@MarksXJ) May 10, 2015
That got a reply from Front Office member Mark Evans:
@MarksXJ @KennyHansonSoB What exactly are you going to protest? Is it the awful Red Card or the clear foul on the 2nd goal?— Mark Evans (@MarkEvans114) May 10, 2015
Again, good points about things that went wrong that were out of the Union's control. I asked Mark if they are happy with how the season is going (a top bloke, unfortunate to be working for someone like Sakiewicz in my opinion). His reply was:
@Bluetooner1 @MarksXJ @KennyHansonSoB of course not, not what it should be at all, just not sure what protesting accomplishes— Mark Evans (@MarkEvans114) May 10, 2015