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Socially Unsocial: Should Reading FC Players Front Up More On Social Media?

While fans were rightfully pretty ticked off after our 3-0 mauling at Huddersfield, if you followed the news simply by social media responses from Reading's players, you'd barely have known a game even took place. Should players be more prepared to give their voice on social media, or is it a minefield not worth traversing?

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Firstly, let me begin by saying I don't think many players would shy away from the fact that last night simply wasn't good enough. In the official post-match news conference both manager Steve Clarke and Oliver Norwood went on record to say that the performance just wasn't up to scratch. Yet if you examined the numerous social media accounts of players like Danny Guthrie, Michael Hector, Alex Pearce, Chris Gunter, Hope Akpan, Garath McCleary it's like the game didn't even take place.

On the one hand it's perhaps unfair to expect players to tweet something in the heat of the moment after a game has just finished. While it's also important to note that some of the names mentioned above barely even tweet after a win, yet alone a defeat.

However, isn't that part of the problem?

As Bobbins discussed in his excellent piece earlier this year, footballers and clubs have never been so media aware as they are in today's era. That, coupled with a growing gulf in financial situations between players and fans, means it's much more difficult for fans to relate to today's players.

Footballers and clubs have never been so media aware as they are in today's era

That's where social media has really helped because fans can now interact with players, can ask them questions, get an insight into their lives and learn little snippets that you might not get in a standard media interview. Just yesterday Hope Akpan ran a little caption competition that really engaged with the fan base and showed what a decent and fun bloke he can be. Likewise we've seen plenty in the past from players like Noel Hunt, Adam Le Fondre and even—as much as I hate to admit it—Royston Drenthe, that has really helped fans take to them.

Yet when you read the timelines of the majority of today's squad it's generally a stale and sterile environment that gives you next to no reason to really care about the squad. Look at how former players like Dylan Kerr, Ady Williams and Kevin Watson still get great interactions with fans, years after they left the club.

Perhaps that's part of the problem, players just don't feel comfortable voicing an opinion while they're under contract.

It's a view and stance I can fully understand, after all how many times have we seen players fall foul of the FA or the court of public opinion for tweeting something controversial? It's a difficult line to straddle being engaging and not p*ssing anyone off.

Yet there can be a compromise and players shouldn't be afraid to show a little bit of their personality without risking alienating groups and ticking off their current (or future) employer. Things like Twitter Q&A's, dressing room Vines, and Instagram snaps from the training ground are all easily done and can help build that fan-player relationship in a positive way. There are always going to be trolls and nay sayers ready to rip into an individual, but I'd like to think the reward outweighs the risk in the long term.

So if you're reading this dear Reading FC player, please don't be afraid to be yourself, you never know you might even make a few thousand friends in the Madejski Stadium each Saturday.