The Calhanoglu Lens

This would have been called “The Suso Lens,” but Suso got sick of the abuse of Milan fans under that lens, and is now at Sevilla, as of yesterday. Social media won. #SusoOut. So the next obvious choice would be Calhanoglu: a player who has also seen much unwarranted abuse by fans, and at best is very underappreciated for his contributions on the pitch. People will say anything under the guise of personal opinion on social media, and maybe if it were just one person, it wouldn’t be problematic. But that’s never how it works. One person becomes thousands, it becomes a mob mentality, and then it directly impacts the players and their mentality. Unfair criticism and outrageous expectations are only part of the Calhanoglu Lens.

Criticized by fans on Tuesday even in his MOTM performance

This phenomenon has been around for a while. People viewing matches via social media instead of their own eyes, the words of others on social media more powerful than the actual football or their purported footballing knowledge. People start talking, and others copy them, and reality no longer matters. The abuse spreads from social media directly to the players, or to the media and eventually to the fans in the stadium. That hate directly impacts the morale of the entire team.

It happened to Suso, a player who sweat blood for Milan for five years, through all three ownership changes, dozens of teammates in and out, and multiple coaches, too. If I had a nickel for every time someone tried to justify to me their hate, criticisms, and unrealistic expectations of him very unsuccessfully, I would be able to move to Milano to worship the team and never have to work again. And now Suso is gone. Who’s to say that the next guy is any better? That he will sweat blood and stay with the team through thick and thin and work as hard as Suso did?

The emotions run even stronger under the weight of hate

This season, fans have added Calhanoglu to their hate list. Like Suso, they expected brilliant performances from him every game, but not expecting the same from other Milan players. For example, Conti, after having that brilliant performance against Juve, has received virtually no criticism whatsoever for having zero subsequently equally brilliant performances, let alone his shakier performances since.

However, with both Suso and Calhanoglu, people “expect more of them” because “they are more talented.” To put it into an analogy you people can relate to, you might have one (or maybe a few) tweets/posts on social media that are brilliant, or at least very well received, with the most likes of any of your tweets/posts. Now imagine if your followers started spreading hate about you and your account because you didn’t live up to that brilliance with every single tweet/post. You have to produce better content because you can, they tell you. Every tweet/post needs to be as good as your best, or you need to get out. They aren’t criticizing anyone else on social media, just you. Because you are not living up to their unrealistic expectations, to your most brilliant performances. That is the Calhanoglu Lens.

Was brilliant vs. Parma, but fans didn't even notice

People think of the Parma game at the beginning of December, and they remember Theo Hernandez’s 88th minute goal, he was chosen by the fans as the Man of the Match. Do you remember what Calhanoglu did in that game? I doubt it. Yet his rating on WhoScored was actually a little higher than Hernandez, and he was named as their MOTM for his technical performance. People don’t pay attention to what he actually does, as we talked about on the last podcast. They pay attention only to what he doesn’t. They only look through their lens that they have created, a set of expectations that they are enforcing on him with negativity, abuse, and hate online and at the stadium.

Fans complain that he plays every match, then they complain when we literally lose if he’s not playing because we miss him that much, he is that important to our team. But they don’t make that connection between him not playing and the team’s poor performance. They judge him because he wears the number 10 jersey. You know, the one also worn by Milan legends who won everything, like Keisuke Honda and Kevin Prince Boateng. Fans don’t care that he’s played almost every match out of position. In fact, apparently, they expect more from him there. They complain that he doesn’t score free kicks like he did at Bayer Leverkusen. Even though that was a different league, with inferior defenders, a team that wasn’t in turmoil and constant upheaval, etc. No, they apply their version of him, and if he isn’t that player, then abuse.

Pointing out your hate when he scored the gamewinner... again

The point is, you have a right to your opinion. However, perhaps your expectations are better kept to yourself, because on social media, they turn to abuse and hate. They also make you look like you are not supporting your team. If you can’t appreciate the contributions that Calhanoglu makes in every match without comparing him to whatever dream girl fantasy expectations of him that you have in your head, then it might be time to re-evaluate your fanship, or at least your footballing IQ. If you are lacking in footballing IQ, that’s fine. Just don’t post on social media as if you do have it, because, again, it turns to hate. Expecting anyone’s most brilliant best in every match and then condemning and criticizing them when they don’t achieve your fantasies is unfair, particularly when you don’t apply it evenly throughout the team. The entire team has struggled with nearly every performance. You look like a terrible person when you only call out certain players. All you need to do as a fan is support your team.

I don’t think this will change anything, a lot of people read about the impact of fans in November and they are still doing what they did before. Mob mentality is very difficult to change. But I cannot sit here and watch another good player get bullied, abused, and pushed out by his own fans without at least trying to affect some change. Hopefully, at least someone will read this and think twice about spreading the cancer of their Calhanoglu Lens.

This post inspired by the music of Lush’s “Ladykillers”

Our next match is
Serie A Round 22
Milan vs. Verona
Sunday, February 2 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)

The Calhanoglu Lens The Calhanoglu Lens Reviewed by Elaine on 12:27 AM Rating: 5
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