Feel The PainThe booing of our own players is one of my football pet hates, it ranks somewhere between goal music and stadium drummers on the TSS list of modern football irritations.

But there are times, like last Tuesday, when booing the team is not only understandable, but perfectly justifiable. In fact, it may even be healthy.

What’s the alternative for football fans when they’ve spent an entire season trying to support a group of players who continuously demonstrate a total lack of fight and passion?

Chanting support and cheering by it’s very nature is positive reinforcement and while there are plenty of instances when you should positively reinforce the efforts of your team irrespective of scoreline, applauding the efforts of a team 4-0 behind, who’ve let their heads drop and aren’t prepared to fight isn’t one of them.

Arsenal fans booing their team for failing to score, while still in the Prem top four and controlling a game, is an example of unjustifiable booing. It’s impatience more than anything else, but failing to support the footballing philosophy of your club only damages the confidence of players who are executing it well, if not perfectly.

But if Leeds United fans want to boo a team totally void of fight and character, knock yourselves out. They deserved it. What’s more, I’ll join you next time, because they can’t be allowed to think their recent performances are acceptable, there has to be consequences.

And therein lies the ultimate problem with Leeds United’s current situation. Brian McDermott seems a bit too pally with players and it’s hard to believe he’s reading them the riot act following poor performances, he seems the sort of manager who’ll look for the most tenuous of positives, pat his team on the back and ask that they keep working hard.

Which is fine when they’ve put the effort in. It’s a perfectly valid style of management that will work nine times out of ten and shouting at people when they’ve given it their best shot gets you nowhere.

But Leeds United are in that one out of ten situation where the players need the fear of something unholy put into them. Every management course in the world will tell you shouting creates a poor working environment and won’t yield long-term results, but what they don’t tell you is that used in moderation, it works like a charm.  Moreover, what’s the alternative when all else has failed and the players simply aren’t trying any more?

Think about it for a second. Someone who shouts constantly you’ll tune out quickly, it becomes their default setting and you’re so used to it, it has no effect.. But when that otherwise calm, composed and friendly manager you’ve come to like loses it, you know it’s time to get your act together. That’s the real trick to management. Encourage when they’re worthy of it, make sure they fear the consequences when they’re not.

It’s the same with booing. When used in moderation, unlike the Arsenal fans, it can serve as an effective wake-up call.

Footballers are so over-pampered and immune to the real consequences you and I face for poor performance, the only thing that stands between them and an effortless existence cashing five-figure cheques is the manager and the fans. I’d like to think there’s professional pride too, but I’ve seen little evidence of that recently.

You want to fire me? Go ahead, I’ll take the rest of my contracted salary and sign for another club.

You want to stick me on bench? Fine, it’s the best view in the house, let me just check my online banking to make sure that five-figure cheque you sent me has cleared.

I hate booing, I really do, but what kind of message are we sending these players when they can’t be bothered to put in the effort, show no signs of fight and are getting hammered at home while we continue to cheer them?

Comments Ross McCormack made in today’s press conference are telling. He accepts the players deserved to be booed at 4-0 down against Reading, admits they should have been performing better and thanks the fans for getting behind the team when they scored the two consolation goals.

Based on Tuesday’s performance alone, you could argue the booing served it’s purpose. The players didn’t like being booed (a consequence of their poor performance), so they got their act together (a little too late unfortunately) and the positive reinforcement every human-being seeks was provided to them.

In an ideal world, Leeds United fans would never be put in a situation where they felt booing was necessary. But this is a club built on a “keep fighting” spirit, a club with a history of teams who showed great character and knew what it meant to play for the badge. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or losing, Leeds fans cheer the players through it all so long as they show the same passion for this club as we have.

If none of those qualities are being demonstrated by the eleven men on the field, fans have every right to boo. We’re not here to support the players, we’re here to support the club they have the extreme fortune of being selected to represent. The players should be honoured to represent Leeds United and fight for another opportunity to do so.

And if the players don’t like that and don’t possess the mental strength to improve their performance, they’re at the wrong club.

Too many of our fans hero-worship individuals who simply don’t deserve it. Fans aren’t here to pat players on the back and protect their feelings. Until such a time as the players demonstrate their value to the club, they’re nothing more than overpaid mercenaries sucking vital resources from my football club and I reserve the right to treat them with the utmost contempt if they think they can turn out in the colours of Leeds United, put in a half-arsed display and then head home to enjoy the spoils our great club provides them.

Don’t wanna be booed? Improve. Don’t like it? You know where the door is.