On Sunday afternoon, Manchester City – after taking the lead – were soundly beaten 4-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford and slipped down to fourth place in the Premier League.
Rather than attacking the players that let the side down, the City fans quickly found a new target for their abuse, Manchester City women’s striker Toni Duggan.
It was after the game when Duggan posted a picture on Instagram of her, teammate Isobel Christiansen and Everton’s Michelle Hinnigan with Manchester United head coach Louis van Gaal.
The timing of the photo wasn’t brilliant, and Duggan later pulled it from the site and apologised via Facebook, but that doesn’t mean she deserves the barrage of abuse that she has received.
Just caught up with @toni_duggan story. Ill-judged timing, yes, but some comments way OTT. Apology shows increasing profile of women's game.— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) April 13, 2015
Earlier in the day, Duggan had scored the opening goal as MCWFC beat Birmingham City to reach the FA Cup semi-final, and her delight at scoring for her team and moving to just one game from Wembley was clear to see.
Around 450 fans were in attendance at the City Academy Stadium to watch the cup victory, so the people who feel they have any right to attack the striker, or feel aggrieved about her behaviour are obviously people who have absolutely no interest in watching the Women’s team or supporting City’s other side.
Duggan is a Liverpool fan who used to play for Everton ladies. She is now in her second season for City and has a fantastic goal-scoring record. City play Arsenal at home on Sunday and there will hopefully be a bumper crowd there to watch two of the WSL’s best teams do battle after the men’s game against West Ham United.
Throughout the footballing world, Louis van Gaal is a legendary figure. The former Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss has seen and done it all. There is no reason why the three players wouldn't want to meet the United boss.
It’s not a secret that players from both the red and blue side of Manchester socialise together off the pitch.
It is one thing for the City fans to be angry after the defeat, but to aim their disgust at a player who gives her all for a team the majority of them have never watched is complete hypocrisy. Perhaps if a small minority of Duggan’s 50,000 Twitter followers came to support her and the team, they would have cause to show their disappointment.
It was an ill-timed move from City’s striker, but the reaction from many City fans was more disgraceful than Duggan taking a picture with a football legend.