In Sincere Defense of Clearly Insane Real Madrid Supporters

Supporter reactions to the on field struggles of arguably the world’s biggest football club, have descended into manic, violent outbursts towards the players and, more recently, their expensive toys.

There appears to be a general consensus within the media, as well among those who follow the game but do not strongly support the club (and even some of those who do), that the fan reaction to the poor performances has been excessive at best and repugnant at worst. At times like these, when the emotional ichor of sport has brought about the worst in people, the ‘detached’ punditry and media tend to dust off the ‘we must remember that it is just a game’ argument. Ironically, this is the same punditry and media that spend the rest of their time endeavoring to elevate these ‘games’ and the people who play them to the more profitable levels of religious idolatry.

Personally, I do not possess the requisite theological training to adequately differentiate between football and organized religion, but as a layman absent any hard religious orientation, I find attempts at equivalency more intriguing than offensive. But I digress.

My point is the general public and media reaction to the recent, well-chronicled aggression of Real Madrid supporters is not just hypocritical, but lacking, I believe, logical merit.

I will attempt to illustrate my position through the curious case of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has come under the most poignant ire compared to the rest of the squad and, I contest, rightfully so. Bale arrived from some middling English club in the summer of 2013 and cost Florentino Perez’s left nut, I mean about 118 million dollars. He reportedly earns approximately 480,000 dollars a week. That is correct. Every week almost a half million dollars are transferred from Real Madrid holdings or the Spanish Treasury or the Illuminati slush fund or wherever, directly into la cuenta bancaria de Señor Bale. I want to smash his car already and I haven’t even got to the crux of my argument.

But let us be fair to the player and offer as full and unbiased account of the circumstances as can be managed. During the 2013-2014 season he managed more than 20 goals and 20 assists in all competitions while missing a fair number of games through injury. Additionally, he scored a fantastic winner in the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona. He also scored a less fantastic winner in the Champions League final versus Atlético Madrid. Moreover, at his best he offered blistering pace on the counter, well delivered crosses and cross field passes, and dangerous long range efforts both from open play and dead balls.  The 2014-2015 campaign has been less prolific for the winger, but he appears on pace to come close to matching the numbers from his introductory season.

Though things are not looking good at the moment, it is still too early to call time on Real’s domestic and Champions League campaigns. Despite a current dip in form, which some might prefer described as a chasm, he remains one of the best young players in the game, full of hinted, though not yet realized, world beating-potential.

On the other hand, even at his best, he has an annoying tendency to beg the question ‘Is Gareth Bale still out there?’ for long periods during a match. He is not particularly effective against teams that defend compact and play on the counter, which is how just about every opponent in La Liga will set up against Real (excepting Barcelona and Rayo). He does not do much work defensively and what work he does do he appears to do rather grudgingly (more talented footballers, but lacking the Welshman’s pace and wicked finish, in the form of Luka Modrić, Toni Kroos and Isco, consistently put in dogged defensive shifts). Perhaps his biggest detraction, however, is the fact that he is a player who needs loads of confidence to produce his best, or even a pale imitation of his best, form. It seems he must to be coddled like modern American youth; told he is the best at everything, praised just for showing up.

Now, when his sole contributions to the recent match versus Barcelona were a disallowed goal and a singular instance of good tracking and tackling to win back possession off of Neymar, and that being the only match he played for Real Madrid that week, he effectively earned a half million dollars for a ten yard sprint and sliding tackle. Meanwhile the unemployment rate in Spain is over 20 percent, closer to 40 percent for people under 30. So the fans got mad and kicked his Bentley. He should be pretty cool with that. He should maybe be hoping they do not figure out a way to make him pay back the millions of dollars he is effectively stealing.

To help further illustrate what I am trying to get at, I have devised a thought experiment. It is a simple experiment. Here is how it works: Imagine you are Gareth Bale making 500 thousand dollars a week playing football for Real Madrid. You put in a string of listless performances and the fans curse your name and kick your car. Would you really have a problem with that? C’mon. Bale and the rest of the Real Madrid squad have got it way better than they’ve any right to, completely irrespective of whatever supporter tantrums and irrational expectations they might endure.

Moreover, the attractive flip side to the borderline tendencies of Real Madrid supporters is that when you preform and win in the manner they want you to perform and win, you are a God. But should you be looking for unreserved adulation, this is not your club.

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2 Responses to In Sincere Defense of Clearly Insane Real Madrid Supporters

  1. Evan April 11, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I agree with the author’s analysis of Gareth Bale’s play. However, regardless of how upset fans may be, Bale did not put a gun to the head of RM’s management and force them to pay him that money. If the fans want to express their dissatisfaction for their team’s (or an individual’s) poor play relative to the money they make (or not), they should take it up with the club’s owners. OK, I get it; team supporters can be passionate, but that does not give them the unalienable right to commit an act of violence or vandalism just because they happen to be “fans”. It looks like “religious idolatry” may be a variable on both sides of this equation.
    Not that I want to take a philosophical walk on the sword of Damocles, but just how far can these “fans” go to express their “love for their team”? Is there a limit? If so, what is it? Who gets to set it? In fact, “fans” like these are cowards probably living pathetic little lives; jealous of others making a lot of money while they are flipping burgers. But that is a discourse of a different nature.
    If Bale is stinking up the pitch with his poor play, most likely it will catch up with him. If not, then he makes a butt-load of money and those vandals are still flipping burgers. Life is full of irony.

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