SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: Give Leo a break from the boos

Posh teenager Leo Da Silva Lopes is consoled by manager Grant McCann after a substitution.
Posh teenager Leo Da Silva Lopes is consoled by manager Grant McCann after a substitution.
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Football fans often confuse me.

They cheer their own players after they’ve been sent off (last weekend Cardiff fans saluted a donkey guilty of extreme thuggery on two occasions before the law finally caught up with him) and they overreact to every win and every defeat (any adult seen crying after a football match should be banned from attending in my opinion).

Leo Da Silva Lopes in action for Posh against Leicester.

Leo Da Silva Lopes in action for Posh against Leicester.

And some Posh fans are not immune to strange behaviour. Some have irrational dislikes of their own players which they can’t wait to put on display on matchday.

Marcus Maddison - the most naturally gifted player in the Posh squad - cops it from one clique who are slow to praise, yet always rush to condemn a maverick talent.

Maddison seems unbothered by the criticism, which is well deserved on his more theatrical days, but I’m not sure the same can be said of Leo Da Silva Lopes.

Da Silva Lopes really ought to be a crowd favourite. He’s a 19 year-old lad with a cracking back story which involves moving to this country from Portugal at the age of 12, being spotted playing in the Petreborough & District Junior Alliance League, some spectacular goal-scoring performances for Posh youths and a rapid graduation to first team football.

Not so long ago local lads (and he counts as local having barely played football before he moved here) coming through the ranks were afforded a far longer period of grace than their elders.

Not any more. To witness the catcalls from certain quarters every time Da Silva Lopes lost possession against an outstanding Leicester team in an FA Cup tie last weekend was rather disturbing.

Do those with an agenda seriously believe the young man will improve if they boo him? The loudest cheer Da Silva Lopes received last weekend accompanied his substitution. Those showing no sympathy to a lad far removed from a Billy Bigtime (he still lives with his mum) probably didn’t realise how much worse Posh were once he’d left the field.

I accept Da Silva Lopes sometimes does himself no favours with his body language. Sprinting to recover after a mistake can go down well with fans as Anthony Grant can probably confirm.

I also accept the club (and his agent) can shoulder some of the blame because he’s been hyped beyond any level of ability he has shown so far. The Peterborough Telegraph reported interest from Manchester United when he was 16 and interest from Arsenal made the back page earlier this season.

I also believe he won’t reach the heights attained by other Posh youngsters Simon Davies and Matthew Etherington, but remember how many times the lad’s position has shifted this season and remember he was playing out of a position as wingback when Posh were at their best at the start of the current campaign.

Give the lad a break. Start supporting and encouraging him. It’s self-defeating of any true fan to do anything else.