Sylvain Distin vs. the Everton fans – how far is too far?

Bryn Lennon

Sylvain Distin clearly felt some comments from Everton fans had over-stepped the mark after Saturday’s draw with Crystal Palace and took the unusual step of confronting them at the final whistle - but was that the right thing to do?

Distin wasn’t aggressive or angry as he wandered over to the visiting section, in fact his body language was one of bemusement, expressing his shock at what he felt was unfair criticism of the team.

He appeared to seek out one fan in particular, but it drew a stinging reaction from other members of the crowd, as demonstrated by some of the pictures that emerged afterwards.

Others, it has to be said, applauded the Frenchman’s reaction as it once again proved he cared and was not afraid to front up to the fans when things go wrong.

Social media was soon abuzz with the incident and many of the Twitter warriors gave Distin some abuse, claiming their entitlement to criticise the players after what was a poor display against a Palace side who had lost nine of their first 10 games and hadn’t kept a clean sheet all season.

Others praised Distin for fronting up, rather than hiding when things go wrong, also remembering that despite the poor result, Everton are not doing too badly this season.

It once again raises the question of how much stick players are expected to put up with and what the price of a match ticket entitles a fan to do.

There exists a minority who feel they can shout pretty much whatever they want at the players if they are not winning a game as they spend a lot of money on match tickets and travel to the stadium.

They also believe that players should not question the fans for having their say because of that money spent, especially as they earn far in excess of what the ordinary supporter does.

Well, sorry, that’s rubbish.

It is true that supporters fork out huge sums to watch football these days and the reaction of the crowd – both positive and negative – is part of the atmosphere that makes football stadiums across the country so special.

Players should be reminded if their displays do not meet the expectations of the club and their fans. But far too often the reaction is over the top, reactionary or without any sense of perspective.

Saturday’s certainly seems to be a case of the latter.

Yes, it was a poor result and average performance but to criticise a player like Distin is shortsighted and down right ignorant. Distin has been one of our most consistent players over the last four seasons, despite his advancing years, and as mentioned previously, will always front up and have dialogue with the supporters after good AND bad results.

Indeed these same fans will be the first to chant Distin’s name and beg for re-tweets from him on Twitter if Everton win the derby next week.

I applaud Distin for wanting to answer back to these fans; not in aggressive way but to explain his point of view and why he feels they have gone over-the-top with the criticism.

Sadly the bile and vitriol he got back may mean he and other players will soon refrain from direct communication with fans, which for me is a great shame.

I hope, however, that it remains a minority of supporters who carry with them that mis-placed sense of entitlement in their pocket along with their match ticket.

I’m pretty sure most match going blues, although never afraid to remind the players if they are playing badly, recognise that there is a line not to be crossed.

Sometimes you just have to accept that – like last weekend – it just isn’t your day.

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