Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Patience In Short Supply In Penang

Football fans are a notoriously hard bunch to please at the best of times. Take Manchester United for example. Their following only have to see their team lose the toss in consecutive games and they are clubbing together to hire a plane to fly over the stadium calling for the manager to leave. Success there has bred an intolerance to mediocrity or even dropping points and the fans are vocal in their repulsion.

United fans have grown up with success though. They have known little else and for them it is normal to get offside goals and dodgy penalties awarded. To them it is a birthright.

Halfway round the world in Malaysia the fans of Penang have had no such success to bask in. They only returned to the top flight last year after a five year absence. The last time they won anything meaningful was when they won the FA Cup way back in 2002. They have lifted the Charity Shield and the FAM League since then but we are talking about a big club?

Last year was their first year back in the top flight as I said since 2010 but instead of showing coach Jacksen F Tiago any kind of gratitude or allowing him the time to build a side that could survive at its new level the fans turned on him and some of the foreign players he had hired. After one home game when results didn't go the way the fans wanted they stayed behind long into the night demanding a meeting with the club management.

The club agreed to meet the disgruntled fans who demanded Jacksen be replaced. The club gave in and they turned to Bojan Hodak to steady the ship. Fan power had won.

Ahead of the new season and a new coach Ashley Westwood was in place. Widely regarded as one of the most promising young coaches in the region the Englishman enjoyed unparalleled success with Bengalruru in India before stepping down in search of new adventures.

So far the supporters have allowed him time to settle in. However they were less than impressed when the kit for the new season was released. It was too plain they whined and demanded it be changed.

Penang's first game of the new season came away to Selangor and somewhat surprisingly the Panthers went into the game in better shape than the one time giants of the local game. However they lost 2-0 and the experienced keeper Syed Adney was deemed at fault for one of the goals on his club debut.

Instead if rallying round their new keeper, giving him a pat on the back and saying it could happen to anyone an element of the support turned on the 30 year old Liverpool born keeper, heckling him as he made his way from the changing room to the club coach after the game. One fan was seen standing in front of him offering a mock round of applause.

Now in fact I love Penang. It is one of my favourite places in the whole region. But the actions of some fans with an overbearing sense of entitlement leaves a sour taste in the mouth. A coach. A kit. A goalkeeper. What next will they take offence to?

With the club potentially moving their home games to Batu Kawan on the Malaysian mainland perhaps they could turn their to that decision? Their City Stadium in Georgetown was fairly central and even with the late kick offs so beloeved of Malaysian football at least kids could get to the game and be home before midnight on a school night. Playing in Batu Kawan could greatly inconvenience fans especially those who live on the island and don't have access to their own transport/

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