Open Letter to Carlos
An open letter following the win at Villa

Dear Carlos,

First, let me congratulate you, the coaching staff and the players on an excellent performance and result at Villa Park. The whole team were on top form from the off, we never looked under pressure at the back and were a constant threat to Villa’s defence. They have a very expensively assembled squad and an exemplary home record and we made them look ordinary in the first half. It was not surprising that we came under more pressure in the second half but our team held firm. As I am sure you will recognise had we scored the 3rd goal on 75 minutes, as we should have done, the game would have been over at that point and Villa would not have been in a position to score the goal that rightly angered Keiron Westwood so much. We just went to sleep right in the last minute of stoppage time which was disappointing. A clean sheet would have been very positive development and we can but hope that this will be a lesson to the players – we will need more clean sheets if we are to progress this season. Once again many thanks for an enjoyable visit to Villa Park which I have not had in a long time.

I have been a supporter of the club for more years than I care to remember;  a season ticket holder for the vast majority of those years, I have seen some highs and many dark days for our club – I was there when we had to beat Southend to avoid relegation into the bottom tier of English football. I have nearly suffered frostbite on a sparsely populated uncovered Kop watching us struggle to simply score a goal over many games in that relegation season in which our leading scorer achieved six goals in the whole season – and he had been on loan from Middlesboro for 8 games! I have travelled many miles to support the club and spent much money and time on it. I was a shareholder in the club, back in the days when we had them. I was here long before you and hopefully will be here for a long time after you have moved on. So, in that context I thought it not unreasonable to comment on the views you offered after the game regarding criticism, supporters and social media.

Football supporters always have and always will give voice to criticisms when the team they support is playing poorly or under-performing, you have acknowledged this by saying that you understand if fans boo at matches. I remember when fans used to slow handclap the team or when cushions used to rain down from the North Stand on to the pitch. Equally so there have always been fans who will cheer and support no matter what. And of course there has always been the grumbling but silent cohort in the middle. The criticisms used to be heard in workplaces, on buses, in the pubs, via letters to the much missed Green’Un and calls to Praise & Grumble – football managers only ever heard that which was voiced at the stadium. These days social media presents another vehicle for opinions, criticism and support to be voiced, and in my experience the vast majority of fans on social media attend matches and fall into one of the three camps described earlier. Unfortunately social media does present an opportunity to a sad minority of keyboard warriors to abuse people in a way which is totally unacceptable and which is condemned by the vast majority of right thinking Wednesdayites.

I am a long standing supporter of the club who attends matches regularly, who writes blogs and uses social media. I support and praise the team when it is justified and voice negative opinions and concerns when I believe that is justified too. I do not engage in personal abuse of any individual. Given all the history and more downs than ups in supporting the club I don’t think I could be described as having been spoilt and therefore having unreasonable expectations. Since, and including, the last home game of the 16/17 season and up to the Barnsley home game this season we had played 19 competitive games of which we had won 5, this included 2 poor performances in the play-offs, abysmal performances at Preston, Bolton (twice) and Birmingham, points thrown away at Burton Albion and the embarrassment of a 4-2 defeat in a Sheffield derby. It is therefore not surprising that you have received criticism as these performances were from the team you lead, organise and direct. Paying customers have a right to complain, I do agree though that they should do this reasonably and without resorting to personal abuse. You should also take note that your name is not now the subject of songs in the way that it used to be. You will have heard criticisms from the stands, including, from some but not all, for your removal. These were borne of frustration that the team was perceived to be under-performing. The vast majority of social media criticism was likewise.

The not entirely convincing win against Millwall and the excellent performance and result at Villa Park have not put things right. We now need a sustained and consistent level of performance that does not yo-yo from week to week. Your comments on Saturday were in danger of giving the impression that everything is now hunky dory and you can stick it to the critics – it is not, and the critics won’t accept it is hunky dory just yet. If you were merely seeking to respond to the minority of personal abusers I understand and support you in that, but you could have chosen your words more carefully – the overwhelming majority of critics on social media attend games, and, note, many social media users who attend games are still your supporters. A former manager of ours, Alan Irvine, once told supporters that unless we had coaching badges to our names our views did not count. Another of your predecessors, Dave Jones, said something equally dismissive. It didn’t help them rebuild strained relations with an element of the fans and I don’t think your comments on Saturday will do so either. Performances and results on the pitch will.

Up The Owls!

Yours sincerely

Steve Walmsley

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