John Duggan writes that independent viewpoints are welcome, whatever the social media mob decides is gospel at any given time
At least it's entertaining, this reaction to Kenny Cunningham's opinion on our channels on Sunday and Monday. It's funny, some of it is laugh out loud hilarious.
It's funny because everyone rushes on Twitter to conjure the most original insult about an ex-pro's opinion about a current footballer. Get a life, peeps.
On Saturday, Damien Delaney was on with us, reacting to Liverpool's signing of Thiago Alcantara and he described it as a great bit of business. He called the Spaniard 'world class' and enthused at his ability to use possession to provide the Premier League champions with better-attacking options this season. A good take.
A day later, Kenny Cunningham was on commentary duty for the Liverpool v Chelsea match and in contrast, he wasn't as excited about Thiago, acknowledging his technical skill, but questioning his defensive capabilities in a holding role.
It was original thought in the context of the narrative of the former Bayern Munich midfielder, and in the context of statistical analysis that would support Thiago's major impact in the Bundesliga.
However, leftfield opinions are to be welcomed. Thiago has played 45 minutes of football for Liverpool and nobody knows for sure how it will work out for him at Anfield.
Kenny Cunningham repeated his views about Thiago on OTB AM on Monday morning and the item took off.
Apart from some well-informed contrarian points of view, the majority of criticism was mocking and it spanned the globe, from Ireland to South Africa, to India. It was a deluge. Cunningham was called a 'clown' a 'fraud', guilty of 'drivel' and the 'worst take' of all time.
Some of the stick was side-splitting, from those bizarrely comparing Kenny to someone on the old American TV show Happy Days, to blaming him for making the Irish accent uncool, to calling it s*** British punditry. Just a reminder everyone that we became a Republic in 1949.
The item with Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan garnered over 100,000 views, but it was absolutely not clickbait. We don't do that here.
Kenny Cunningham knows the game, was a Premier League footballer, and played at a World Cup. He doesn't have a Twitter account for likes, nor was he looking to stir controversy. He genuinely believed in his opinion and that's good enough for me. What is weird is the predictability of the mob, descending from the hill, pitchforks in hand, to banish Kenny to a place where he will never commit punditry again.
I expect and hope it's all water off a duck's back for Kenny.
Gary Breen played with Kenny Cunningham at the 2002 World Cup, both of them on top of Spain in the closing stages of the Republic of Ireland's ill-fated last 16 tie.
He made a reasonable point lately about Shane Duffy's move to Celtic and the quality of opposing players Duffy would face in Scotland in comparison to the forwards he was up against week in, week out, in the Premier League with Brighton.
The comments were picked up, shared, grew legs, and became a Chinese whisper, arriving at the destination of criticism of Gary's views from Celtic manager Neil Lennon. At a press conference.
My take on the Celtic furore was that it's rooted in insecurity, as Scottish football is patently not as competitive in Europe as it used to be. Nobody wants to be told their product is not what it was. Some Celtic fans can't face that reality. Gary got slated on Twitter.
The Liverpool stick Kenny received? Who knows. Maybe his Fabinho opinion didn't come to pass and people remember that. Maybe supporters feel a divine right to defend the honour of champions. Football fandom is obsessive because often it's the most important thing in a person's life.
But you know what? The mob needs to take a day off across all aspects of society, football included. I know social media is rooted in someone's identity, but wouldn't it be better for all of us if our use of it was more considered than toxic?
That's all I wanted to write, really.
I now look forward to this column being received with a 'Who the F*** are you?" "You haven't a clue" and a demand for me to shut up.