Jonas Olsson has criticised West Bromwich Albion fans for their treatment of his team-mate and compatriot Markus Rosenberg – and urged them to get right behind the striker this season.
The Sweden international failed to score in 27 first-team appearances in 2012-13 – all but eight of them as a substitute – but has raised hopes of a more meaningful contribution this time round by netting on tour in Austria and Hungary.
Olsson showed his displeasure at the attitude of Baggies supporters in the home defeat against Tottenham last season and did not hold back when his fellow countryman was under fire several months ago.
"It got to me a little bit,” Olsson was quoted as saying in the Birmingham Mail. “When he got to play five or six games at the end of the season consistently, he did very well. The fans didn’t really give him a fair chance in my opinion. Some did but most of them didn’t.
"I think he showed good glimpses last season and his CV speaks for itself. He has played in the World Cup and in the Euros. He has been performing well in one of the best leagues in the world, the Bundesliga, and scoring goals season-in, season-out.
"Now he has scored (for us) and everyone is saying he’s beginning to show what a good player he is. I thought he showed at the final stage of last season what a good player he was. Before that, he didn’t play very much because we had strikers who performed very, very well."
A clearer path towards possible first-team selection has come for 30-year-old Rosenberg with the return of Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea and the departure of Marc-Antoine Fortune to Wigan. Peter Odemwingie’s sale looks to be just a matter of time and Albion’s only permanent signing so far this summer has been Nicolas Anelka.
Head coach Steve Clarke has praised the Swede’s contribution and would be loathe to now consider his sale, having thought in the spring that he, too, may well go. Olsson is in no doubts as to what he wants.
"Of course I want him to stay," he added. "Markus played for Ajax, which is a club where you get criticised quite easily. He’s professional and he’ll just get on with it. Hopefully he can show the people who didn’t believe in him last year what a good player he is."