Social media, as some have learnt the hard way, brings with it a set of social mores that people have to learn as they go along. Taking this into consideration, it is hardly surprising that some people find themselves getting rather unstuck by it and Paul Konchesky, the Liverpool defender, could be forgiven for wishing that Facebook after comments made by his mother found their way into the public domain yesterday. Mrs Konchesky is believed to have posted some, shall we say, “spirited” messages on the subject of Liverpool supporters on her Facebook page last week, and Liverpool supporters have expressed a range of reactions, from anger and irritation through to mild amusement at what she had to say about them.
In calling them “Scouse scum”, the nerve that she touched is so raw as to be obvious to anybody that looks at the screenshots that have found their way onto the internet, to the extent that whether it was fake or not was widely discussed in some circles yesterday morning. This in itself would have been a story worth commenting on – what would it say about the mark that Paul Konchesky is making upon Liverpool Football Club if someone was prepared to go to the trouble of faking such a graphic? – but it seems to have been genuine, so what does it tell us?
Firstly, it is plainly absurd to automatically and directly link Paul Konchesky to the comments made by his mother. He is obviously not responsible for what she says, however unpleasant her comments may have been, although it is perhaps surprising to note that there has not yet, at the time of writing, been a public statement from him clarifying his position on the matter. Konchesky has received considerable abuse from a section of the Liverpool support since he joined the club from Fulham during the summer and it seems implausible that some will not use it as a stick to beat him with when Liverpool play – against Fulham, ironically enough – this weekend. While he remains silent on the subject, he could be regarded as adding fuel to this particular fire.
Liverpool themselves have made a public statement to the effect that, “Mrs Konchesky’s comments are inappropriate and have already been removed from Facebook. This does remain, however, a private family matter”, which is probably about the right tone for the club to take. Liverpool Football Club has a duty of care towards its player, and in releasing this statement it seems to be be attempting to cool any potential for unrest amongst their more hot-headed supporters whilst expressing their obvious disapproval for what she had to say. Ultimately, anybody that calls someone “Cockney scum” because that person’s mother called them “Scouse scum” is probably missing the point in so far as any moral high ground may be concerned.
In a broader sense, what this somewhat depressing story does highlight is the fractious nature of north/south relations in England, and how easily they can become so poisonous. It is not the first time in recent years that the lazy throwing around of such insults has been seen in the Premier League. It was not difficult to scratch the surface of complaints about Newcastle United’s management over the last couple of years, for example, to find people of the opinion that Mike Ashley somehow doesn’t understand their club because he is a “cockney”, even though justifying such a statement isn’t necessarily a straightforward process and even this overlooks the the fact that Ashley, like the overwhelming majority of people in the south of England (and, indeed, many people in London), isn’t a cockney himself.
So, these lazy stereotypes work both ways and perhaps the best way forward for this odd little story (and it is a “little” story – it certainly falls into the category of “tomorrow’s chip wrappers”) would be for Mrs Konchesky to apologise for her slurs and for everyone to move on. Whether this will be possible, however, is doubtful while Liverpool continue to misfire on the pitch. Paul Konchesky isn’t the only Liverpool player to not be performing to the expectations of the club’s supporters this season, but the biggest irony of this situation player’s mother doesn’t really seem to be doing her son any favours with her comments. If she wanted him to become still more entrenched as the poster boy for Everything That Is Wrong With Liverpool Football Club This Season, she has gone the right way about it.
Still, though, Liverpool supporters planning to vent their speen in his direction this weekend might be best advised to consider the effect that such behaviour may have upon the rest of his team. The pack mentality of football teams is well-documented and, if the Liverpool team is as frail as many of its supporters continue to believe it is (and Roy Hodgson remains under considerable pressure at the club), the players, regardless of what their mothers may or may not have said about people from Liverpool, could probably do with their support. In any case, Konchesky is under a lucrative contract at Liverpool, and has no obligation to go anywhere. It could well be that they are stuck with him for the time being unless he receives a better offer and, if he is aware of his limitations as a player, exactly where a better offer might come from is a question that seems unlikely to remain unanswerable. His mother, however, might be best-advised to stay away from Anfield for a while, though.
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