Preston North End boss Alex Neil advises his players to stay OFF social media

Alex Neil has urged his players not to listen to the noise on social media as it continues to be a hot topic in football.

In recent weeks there have been several cases of abuse directed towards players and officials in football – some racially motivated – and even death threats.

Neil feels that there is a greater disconnect between fans and footballing staff at the moment due to them being unable to attend games, making it easier to be harsh.

He said: “At the moment fans not being in the stadium makes things even more difficult.

Preston boss Alex Neil

“There is no rapport with the players, there’s no rapport with the staff, there’s no rapport with the fans themselves and it’s very subjective.

“They can say that is rubbish, but most of them might not have watched the game. With some of our games this year, we’ve won them but we’ve been rubbish – but it’s great, because you won!

“That’s just the nature of the game. The vast majority of our fans are normal, hard-working people and want to see their team do well and can get quite emotional or upset about it.

“Then you have the minority that you just can’t please.

“I don’t know what they do in their own life but they feel the need to slaughter everybody and anybody that they can think of to make themselves feel a little better.

“The worst thing you can do is give oxygen to them. For me, the best thing to do is just ignore them.

“As far as I’m concerned they’re not even there.

“I’ve seen a lot of people talking about it lately and that it’s a talking point.

“Arsenal’s goalkeeper, a top player, was reading what people were thinking of him on social media and I thought that was staggering. I stopped that a long time ago. I realised that nothing good can come from that.”

The 39-year-old admitted that the online abuse from PNE fans can come up sometimes for players who are feeling down about themselves or their game.

Neil thinks the players can remove the threat of being derailed by avoiding social media.

“It’s up to them but that’s always been my advice,” he said.

“The only thing I’d have got involved in during my time being here is probably if I’m having a chat with a player to see how he is or if anything is up, and some of them might have commented on being slaughtered.

“I’d say to them, ‘Why would you put yourself through the pain of reading these things’? Irrespective of how you play sometimes, you’re never going to please some people.

“People just dislike you because they just decide to. Take yourself out of that situation.

“As long as you have a support network – who are the players around you, the staff, your family and the people that generally care about you – as long as you’re doing the best you can, that’s all you can do.

“You need to take yourself away from those sorts of things if that’s going to affect you negatively and I think that’s really important for the players.

“I always advise any of my players don’t get involved in any of it, don’t read any of it, don’t reply to any of it. Leave it.”

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