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I was called a c**t twice last week on Twitter. It seems that my comments on the Manchester United v Real Madrid game on Tuesday were at odds with the views of some, who felt I was not the objective observer they previously thought me to be. Since I've never been the objective observer even I thought myself to be, the attack was unwarranted. They put me on a crucial altar to sense of self - the altar of he who agrees with me - and I let them down. I was not sorry to disappoint these two gentlemen, however. I had my own opinion after all and, while I was entitled to it, I was not entitled, and nor is anyone else, to hurl vile abuse at someone who happened to disagree.
The great game is all about opinions. But on Twitter (the greatest opinion machine the world has ever seen) football can be a volatile goon-fuel for those who suffer badly, embarrassingly and abusively from opinion intolerance. Can such people actually enjoy football? Can they appreciate it in any way? Or do they only enjoy the club they choose to associate with winning and tolerate only commentary and opinion that reflects this?
I can understand that feeling - I still feel it sometimes, but not to the extent that I used to. I've tried actively (although not always successfully) to stop defeats ruining my day, evening, weekend, week etc. I've tried instead to focus on the football, the diversion and drama it provides - and the amusement and fun it can yield. Thankfully, I've not had to rein in an abusive manner that gets triggered by someone making even a measured criticism of my club, as if somehow such a comment is a personal attack.
But let's put the vile population of Twitter to one side, because the medium and some of the great people on it have become an addictive accompaniment to my viewing pleasure. It's a shame that it can't be the same for some others. Pick the right people to follow, and you can engage in insightful and fruitful debate over almost any aspect of the game. Follow the right people, and you can chuckle your way through 90 minutes of even the most moribund of Monday Night Football fare.
It would be easy to let the dopes who cannot see what are two great forms of escapist entertainment for what they are - and instead choose to return the abuse, escalating it into a lather of misdirected frustration and anger. A person who chooses to label another as a c**t for suggesting that Manchester United might have handled being down to ten men more effectively needs to take a long hard look at himself and perhaps check into a hospital.
But let them fester in their own bile. I'll still give my opinion, back it up and argue the toss with anyone who shows signs of coherence - and I'll manage to do so without recourse to name calling and abuse.
Most of all I'll continue to enjoy those who can inject insight and laughs into 140 characters. So why get angry and abusive when, for example, you can pass any game a la Johnny Nicholson, imagining the players in front of your eyes as characters in The Sweeney?
So how about Joe Cole as a chirpy recidivist cat burglar and chimney sweep with a heart of gold? Or ex-army pub owner David Moyes who puts on illegal dog fights? Or Scott Parker as another ex-army back from Northern Ireland with a terrible murderous rage inside? Or maybe picture Sergio Ramos as the transvestite night club singer linked with the disappearance of missing schoolgirl Luka Modric ("What 'ave you done with her you slag!"). Now that's football and that's Twitter, for me anyway.
Paul Little - Guess what? He's on Twitter.
There were Man U fans wishing death on Roy Keane for his punditry, so I wouldn't take it personally, c**t.- v. profane