LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Salomon Kalou of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
We've talked plenty about the actual mechanics of Chelsea's 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were very poor in the first half, and although they played much, much better in the second there were still plenty of questions raised about the calibre of play. Salomon Kalou more or less epitomised Chelsea's toothlessness in the first half, the striker doing essentially nothing all match save pass backwards for 34 minutes, whereupon* he was substituted.
*I wish 'whenupon' was a word. I'd use it all the time.
Said substitution was met with derisory cheers and a smattering of boos, and the team was booed off the pitch ten minutes later at halftime, prompting Andre Villas-Boas to comment about the nature of the home support in his typically understated way:
Our public wants us to be champions and we are listening to their demands but we need their support all the time. Everybody must get involved and you must feel the presence of the public in a supporting way, not that they weren't, but you need full support, a good environment, good commitment from the public and good empathy.
Simply put, that wasn't good enough from the home fans. It wasn't anywhere near good enough. It's not as though Kalou wasn't trying out there - he simply had a bad day. Last I checked, it's not implied that fans of a team cheer unless that team doesn't play well, in which case they will boo. Every team will under-perform every now and then. Are we really so fickle that we'll turn on the club after (at most) 135 minutes of mediocre football?
Fans pay for the right to those seats, and so yes, they are allowed to boo. I'm also allowed to call the booing fans completely classless for doing so. Are we allowed to criticise, complain and all that lot? For sure - and goodness knows there was a lot of complaining in the game thread here. But that doesn't mean we abuse our own players in the process to their own faces.
I actually met Kalou earlier this year at Stamford Bridge and shared a few words (and hugs) with him. He's a genuinely lovely guy, although he was also pretty shy. He's not a bad person, and he certainly doesn't deserve the level of scorn he's received for what is essentially two hours of poor work after a Chelsea career that has (so far) mostly consisted of him being an average bench striker for the Blues.
I don't think Kalou is a particularly good player, and I'd be happy to see him move on, but that doesn't mean it's cool to launch abuse at him from the stands. We should be better than that, no?