Upson urges fans to get onside

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The Independent Football

Matthew Upson has admitted players' confidence can be badly dented if their own fans start to jeer them.

England team-mate Ashley Cole was booed at Wembley on Saturday following a blunder which gifted Kazakhstan their goal in a 5-1 World Cup win for the Three Lions.

Coach Fabio Capello claimed he "did not understand" why an individual was being singled out for criticism, while stand-in skipper Rio Ferdinand went even further, suggesting the fans responsible "should be ashamed of themselves".

Upson, who was winning his 10th cap in the absence of John Terry, was equally unhappy, adding his voice to the argument, feeling that by isolating Cole, the England fans were only going to make the full-back perform even worse.

"It is the fans' right to do what they want," said Upson.

"No-one is asking them to come and clap for 90 minutes. But mistakes happen and it doesn't help when the fans jump on someone's back.

"Without doubt it can affect players' confidence.

"But part of being an elite sportsman is reacting when you make mistakes.

"It is something everyone has to do and Ashley knows that.

"He will cope with it mentally. I spoke to him afterwards and he was fine."

Ironically, Upson does feel that, as a collective unit, the England side may have benefited from the negative reaction.

In such circumstances, the team tend to unite behind a common cause, forging a bond that cannot easily be broken.

"It is difficult," said Upson.

"It can affect the whole team but in a way it can be positive as well because it makes you pull together.

"It is natural for the fans to expect a lot from the team. We have one of the strongest groups of players in the world. We play in fantastic stadiums. There is a pressure and expectancy on us.

"We have to cope with that. The players would just ask the fans not to get too carried away. We are still in the process of learning what the manager wants. Results have gone well so far, so what happened was very unfortunate."

Whilst the abuse was not racially motivated, it was a reminder the England fans are not squeaky clean when it comes to abusing players.

However, it is unlikely an opposition team would request a friendly fixture not be held at Wembley due to supporter abuse.

That is the case with Spain, who should be taking on England next February in a friendly, but not in the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid.

With memories fresh of the racist abuse directed at Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe and Rio Ferdinand in 2005, the FA have demanded the game be played away from the Spanish capital.

Seville, Valencia and Santander have all been mentioned as alternative venues although, as yet, there is no agreement.

But Upson feels the general point of England not wanting to play in the Spanish capital is perfectly reasonable.

"I was at that game," he recalled.

"I remember the racist chanting and it was not very pleasant.

"If that decision has been made, it just proves people will not stand for it any more.

"If we have to get a game moved because of the racist environment then we will. It is a positive step towards stamping it out."