In late July Charles N'Zogbia went on a bizarre Twitter tirade that made many people suspect he was on his way out from Aston Villa. More than a month later, he's still with the club and still doing things that are causing a stir on Twitter. It all started with this message earlier tonight:
Plenty of people saw this as a veiled reference to a possible N'Zogbia move. Rumours have swirled all day on twitter about a connection to Sunderland (though I can't find anything trustworthy to back them up) and the @Vi_Deluxe mentioned in there claims to be someone in "Sports Management and Consulting." Put 'em together and you've got the makings of a good juicy rumour.
If that's where this ended, though, it wouldn't be much of a story. Instead, a bunch of belligerent Villa fans decided to start hounding N'Zogbia on twitter. And when N'Zogbia started responding, it was fairly innocuous at first. Like this exchange, begun in response to the above tweet:
Then Charles laid down the hammer on one fan (whose tweets are protected, so I have no idea what they said):
@adam1988avfc please the day you will just play 1 premier league game il give u a follow back.— Charles N'Zogbia (@CharlesNzo) August 31, 2015
All in all, it was surprisingly good-natured ribbing from a guy who was getting frankly unwarranted abuse. Abuse like this:
But, this being Villa, plenty of fans are upset about the way that N'Zogbia is acting. Which is patently ludicrous.
Listen, the idea of N'Zogbia playing more matches at Aston Villa is as much anathema to me as it is to you. And the club knows that! Tim Sherwood has made it abundantly clear that N'Zogbia is free to leave for better employment.
But the fact that he has underperformed at Villa does not entitle fans to sling abuse his way on twitter. Has he cost the club plenty of money? Absolutely! Is that in any way his fault? Not at all! Are we entitled to criticise his play? Definitely! That's what fans, analysts, and journalists do!
None of that means that he should be getting personal insults sent his way to his personal twitter account. By being a footballer and putting himself in the public eye, N'Zogbia has opened himself up to more public scrutiny than is acceptable for most people. But there is still a line between scrutiny and decency. Complain about him all you want from a footballing standpoint. But don't complain in such a way that he is forced to see all of it. It's the difference between saying "You know, that Stan is a real idiot at the office" and standing outside of Stan's flat knocking on his door until he opens and yelling "You're an idiot Stan!"
Given the circumstances, I'm actually rather impressed at N'Zogbia's restraint. Heavens knows I've had a shorter fuse with idiots on twitter before and I'm not getting abuse in the quantity that he is. Regardless, knock it off people. You look like idiots and you're being selfishly rude. Charles N'Zogbia may not be the footballer we all wanted, but he still deserves the decency afforded to a human being.
As for those rumours? I have yet to see anything credible. N'Zogbia may still be around when the window closes tomorrow, and if he is, I'm not looking forward to seeing what idiots will tweet at him then.