PSG boo-boys need to respect their star players

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Zlatan Ibrahimovic angry with refPA PhotosZlatan Ibrahimovic hit out at PSG supporters

"People are very demanding in Paris," Zlatan Ibrahimovic remarked to reporters before leaving the Parc des Princes after Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 win over Nancy. "It is a bit bizarre when you think of what things were like before. Because, before, there was nothing."

And for once, the man who has called himself a "living legend", "unique" and "the best striker in world football", is right.

- Ibrahimovic 'should show respect'
- Zlatan responds to 'demanding' fans

Some sections of the PSG support recently booed Ibrahimovic after a string of disappointing performances - in the defeat against Sochaux, the Champions League first leg at Valencia and the home league win over Marseille. And it's all occurred despite the Swede netting the late second goal against OM to secure victory over PSG's bitter rivals. Ibra has scored 28 goals in 34 matches in all competitions for the club this season, an outstanding contribution by any standards in world football. The boos are simply unappreciative and although at first it was just a little dissatisfaction, now it is hurting the side and bordering on ungrateful.

The capital club have enjoyed relative success in a short space of time, but it must be remembered that this was a relatively new team at the start of the season. So expecting them to win everything they were participating in immediately is unrealistic. PSG, in their 40 year history, have only won Ligue 1 twice, most recently in 1994, so whilst there is insatiable anticipation of a first title in 19 years, there is also an expectation that the team will steamroller all opposition. That doesn't happen in France, as was demonstrated with Saturday's hard-fought 2-1 win over Nancy.

PSG need patience from the fans but what they get at the moment are "hecklers" as Carlo Ancelotti branded the sections of fans that constantly get on the team's back. This is the problem with nouveau riche clubs; the money brings nouveaux fans that are in it for the success of being associated with the team, not because they have any particular allegiance to the club. A plastic fan is a particularly apt term in Paris, as previously low attendances (caused by the club's vital decision to break with the hard-core hooligan element that plagued the club in 2010) are now boosted by the arrival of new fans. Begging the question of where they were before when things weren't quite so rosy.

Those new arrivals are either there for success or were previously disillusioned fans that left because of the team's self-destructive tendencies on and off the pitch over the past few decades. Not to mention the subsequent lack of success. There is little patience on their part when the team do not win matches, so very little room for realism. The reality is that PSG have only enjoyed moderate success thus far, despite the arrival of Qatar Sports Investments.

Previous success mostly came by virtue of domestic cup competition success, a number of memorable European encounters and a Cup Winners' Cup title during their golden period. The club's big reputation arguably comes from the fact that they are based in Paris and have a history of perennial underachievement.

At this moment I recall an incident from a match with Metz in 2004 when flares rained down on the pitch from PSG fans that were disillusioned with the direction the club were heading under then president Francis Graille, who eventually left in 2005. The result of that was a one-match ban for all fans (myself included as a season ticket holder) from the stadium because of the actions of a reckless few. The capital club were leading the match 3-0 at that point, so it is safe to say that PSG fans don't exactly have a history of patience.

Those boo-boys need a bit of perspective, now more than ever. Those dark days are largely behind the club, but the supporters are still doing their best to maintain a reputation as fickle fans. Leonardo said as much recently, but in speaking out against the fans and high expectations, he too has hurt the club and undermined his role as Sporting Director.

A team "not built for Ligue 1" as he called the team, contradicts the goals laid out by QSI when they arrived almost two years ago. Now if judging his scatter-gun approach to transfers, which have met with either widespread acclaim or failure, the Brazilian himself has admitted his own failure. This is possibly why rumours have started to surface suggesting that he will move on this summer. He has raised the profile of the club sufficiently, but now he has also cast doubt over his ability to move the project forward in the long run.

Ibra's comments could have an incendiary effect (literally) when you consider the fans' track record with their behaviour, but they need to respect their star players more or they risk driving them out. One of the biggest problems with this behaviour is that it prevents the players from building a rapport with their fans; the other is that it starts driving talent away from the club. Unfortunately, it is not the majority of the fans who are guilty of this.

Success in Ligue 1, and possibly a domestic cup this season, was the main goal for Carlo Ancelotti's side; the Champions League run has been a bonus. The sections of the fans in question need to revise their sky-high expectations and appreciate that success of this magnitude is going to take time. Fans who criticise a striker who is soon to hit the 30 goal mark for the season and champion the potential arrival of Wayne Rooney (who has not yet hit the mark) are people who have been swept away by the inevitable circus that surrounds a club with money. Would Rooney fare better than, or even as well as, the Swede has? Not likely.

All good things must come to an end, so here in the early stages of what should be a bright new era for the club, the fans should take a moment to consider the progress made over the past 18 months. Any supporters who know their history should consider where the club was as recently as ten years ago, and just sit back and enjoy the experience.

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