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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 20, 2007

Hughes: Cash-rich football may atagonise fans

Blackburn Rovers manager Mark Hughes believes players are feeling a backlash of resentment from fans who are disillusioned with the amount of money in football.

Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell spoke out this week, claiming the abuse from crowds is worse than ever, while the England international's club boss Harry Redknapp has also complained about the number of derogatory comments that seem to be directed at players and officials.

Former Manchester United and Chelsea striker Hughes has not noticed an increase in abuse from the terraces - he feels it has always been a constant.

But he offered an opinion as to why attitudes might have changed, with players now the furthest they have ever been from the man on the street in terms of earning power and financial wealth.

'I haven't noticed it being worse than ever. I think it has always been there,' he said.

'Should we accept it? I don't know - but I think we do, because it has always been there.

'I think maybe there is a little bit of disdain for footballers, more dislike from possibly the perception that they earn vast amounts of money.

'Maybe that is the driving cause behind the feeling that it is getting more personal and directed at individuals.'

Unfortunately, because it is almost ingrained in the culture of football, Hughes sees very little likelihood of being able to stamp it out altogether.

But he called on supporters everywhere tohelp try to eradicate it by seeking to cut it out at source.

'It is impossible to police. It is very difficult for stewards or police or anyone to get involved because of the vast numbers involved,' he believes.

'What needs to happen is for people in the crowd hearing these things being said by the people sat next to them to police them.'

Hughes has other issues on his mind, with Chelsea Blackburn's Barclays Premier League visitors on Sunday.

His team were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Arsenal on Tuesday and have conceded 14 goals in their last five matches, winning only once in all competitions in the last eight games.

The former Wales boss has stressed his squad are working hard to sort out their difficulties rather than worry about it.

'It could be very easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves - but we're not doing that,' he said.

'It's a frustration rather than a worry. We feel we're a much better team than we're showing at the moment.

'That isn't criticism just of the back four; it is a collective thing - everybody has to take responsibility for the defensive play that we are displaying at the moment.

'We've shown in the early part of the season that we can defend correctly in all areas - so we'll keep working hard.

'At the moment it is a little raw and a little bit painful for everybody, but we'll turn it round.

'We are still very much in the top half of the Premier League and we'll just have to have a run in the FA Cup now.'