Joey Barton is the latest footballer to admit his disappointment at fans who booed him – on this particular occasion during Wednesday night’s clash between QPR and Liverpool.
The controversial midfielder went on to reveal that he’d played the worst match of his career against the Reds, being substituted midway through the second period before his side’s remarkable late comeback in the 3-2 victory.
"Disappointed with fans booing, we're meant to be in it together," Barton said on Twitter.
"They won't break me, guaranteed. I've been through much worse. Form is temporary, class is permanent. I was awful tonight. Worst I've ever played in my career."
Manager Mark Hughes took a slightly more pragmatic approach to the reaction of supporters at Loftus Road, perhaps recognising that the introduction of Jamie Mackie helped secure a famous victory.
Most importantly, QPR moved out of the relegation zone with the win, and have renewed hope in their fight against relegation.
"Joey was not having the best of times," said Hughes post-match. "It was unfortunate that maybe a few felt the need to possibly boo him, but Joey is very strong, as we all know.
"He won't let it affect him and will play a big part in what we do from now until the end of the season. Tonight was not his night, but there will be other nights."
Barton is famed for his passion and fiery side in English football, often running into controversy both on-and-off the pitch during a ten-year professional career. His arrival with the Hoops back in August was seen as a major step towards helping the club survive in the Premier League this season.
But last night, Barton simply wasn’t doing that on the pitch, and the fans let both the player and manager know that they felt a change was needed. And, as is the case with football, the fans will happily cheer if Barton produces a fine display against Sunderland next weekend.
The simple fact is that supporters pay big money to watch professional football players represent their team. And, with many holding a close affiliation to their club, it’s understandable that frustration spills over in the form of booing.
“You have to respect your fans for turning up for the whole season," said Arsene Wenger after fans booed his Arsenal side last May.
"You have to accept that [some left] and you have to thank those who are still in the stand. We are in a job where you have to please people and if they are not happy, we have to accept that.”
Wenger knows as well as anyone that fans can quickly turn one way and then the other, with many booing and calling for his head at the start of the season and now hailing the Frenchman as a miracle-worker after the Gunners turned things around.
The morale of the story is simple – fans are guilty of quickly turning on players and managers. We all do it, believing we know what is best and which decision should be made to make an impact.
Any player worth his salt knows that, in the majority of cases, it's a short-term response to a perceived short-term problem. One good performance can quickly get the fans back on side.
Barton is more than capable of that, but he must remember that the fans have been at the club much longer than he has. They have every right to make their voices heard - be it with positive chants or negative boos.
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