KIERAN TRIPPIER did something wrong in the wake of Newcastle United’s weekend defeat at Bournemouth – but it wasn’t the altercation with a supporter that has dominated the headlines in the last few days.

A lone fan took exception to Newcastle’s performance at the Vitality Stadium, an emotional Trippier hit back and pointed out the injury issues that have decimated the Magpies’ squad in the last few weeks, and after a bit of shouting and finger pointing, life moved on. Fine. Emotions were running high and tempers briefly flared. I certainly wouldn’t be criticising Trippier for not biting his tongue.

What happened a few minutes later down in the tunnel, though, was more disappointing. “I was just having a chat, and saying that we are giving everything,” said Trippier, in a post-match interview with Sky Sports. “We got beat – and we do apologise for that.”

What on earth is Trippier feeling the need to apologise for? Newcastle’s players turned up at Bournemouth, gave their all, and were eventually found wanting. They lost 2-0. Maybe it was a game too far with all the injuries that have crippled the squad in the last month or so? Maybe it was just an off-day, with too many players, including Trippier, underperforming? Maybe Bournemouth just played well?

Either way, footballers are allowed to lose without immediately feeling the need to apologise for letting people down.

You see it all the time now. Scroll through social media on a Saturday night, and you’ll find a succession of players wanting to apologise to the fans. “Sorry for losing. You all deserve better. We go again next weekend.” It’s becoming increasingly hard to find a post-match interview where a losing captain doesn’t mimic Trippier by throwing himself on the mercy of the fans.

Since when did football supporters gain the right to demand that their team wins every week? It’s part of what I’d describe as the ‘Sky-ification’ of football – the notion that every match is a major event, every defeat is a crisis or a drama, someone has to be accountable for even the smallest thing that goes wrong.


Sometimes, things are much more mundane. Teams lose, players struggle, fans are left disappointed. It’s not a tragedy, and it certainly doesn’t demand the kind of self-flagellation that Trippier was displaying on Saturday night.

‘Ah,” you might be exclaiming. “But those Newcastle fans had travelled the length of the country and paid their hard-earned money to watch their side lose to a team a dozen-or-so places below them in the table’.

True, they did. And this certainly isn’t going to be an attack on the travelling supporter who puts up with multiple hardships to support his or her team up and down the country. I have huge admiration for the Newcastle fans who packed out the away end at Bournemouth, having spent most of the previous week in Germany watching their side at Borussia Dortmund. Just as I admired the Middlesbrough supporters who trekked to back-to-back away games at Exeter and Plymouth or the Sunderland fans who sold out the away end at Swansea earlier this month.

But that doesn’t mean they suddenly have a divine right to expect that their side delivers a winning performance. Ultimately, it’s a fan’s decision whether they travel hundreds of miles to watch a game of football or not, and when they opt to support their side, they do so in the knowledge that they might well find themselves watching a defeat or a substandard performance.

Surely that’s all part of the supporter experience, isn’t it? As David Brent so memorably quoted Dolly Parton in The Office, ‘You can’t have the rainbow without the rain’. Are you really a dyed-in-the wool fan if you haven’t watched your team be bloody awful in the freezing cold at the opposite end of the country?

Football’s greatest asset is its unpredictability. Pay to go to the theatre, and you know what you’re going to be watching.

Admittedly, there’s probably a base line of effort and performance level that fans have a realistic right to expect. The notion of refunding the travelling fanbase is a relatively recent development, but it is one that, in exceptional circumstances, I would support.

I remember Sunderland’s players stumping up around £60,000 to refund supporters’ tickets after they’d been thrashed 8-0 at Southampton in 2014. Given the scale of their capitulation, that probably felt about right. Newcastle have had moments in the not-too-distant past that probably merited such a move. Losing to Stevenage in the FA Cup perhaps.

They’re once-in-a-generation games though, matches that will continue to stand out as outliers for years to come. The rarity of the act of refunding tickets should make it mean more on the rare events when it happens.

Nowadays, apologies have become so commonplace they don’t really mean anything at all. What’s Trippier going to do if Newcastle fail to beat Chelsea in their first game back after the international break? “Look, I’m really sorry about that misplaced pass in the 21st minute and the corner that didn’t beat the first man in the 75th. I know you all deserve so much better.”

Footballers have to be allowed to make mistakes; teams have to be allowed to lose. It’s frustrating, especially when you’ve got a six-hour drive home at the end of it. For the ten or 20 seconds after the final whistle, why not have a shout or a scream to let your anger out?

But if you’re a fan, don’t demand an apology. And if you’re a player who has just lost, don’t issue one. Life would be boring if your team was winning all the time, and remember, somewhere around the corner, that rainbow won’t be too far away.