By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Streich chides fans for criticizing Atubolu: "They should be proud of such players."

As he nears the end of a long and prolific career, Freiburg's interminably wise old gaffer Christian Streich had clear words for club supporters registering verbal attacks on some of the squad's younger and inexperienced players. 

A 1-1 draw at home against Mainz on Sunday evening didn't do much to help SC Freiburg's case for European football next season. In general, Christian Streich's Breisgauer have furnished rather unconvincing league football this season. The southern Badeners - in part due to untimely injuries - have been forced to rely upon a cohort of younger homegrown players who don't appear quite ready to lift the squad to the top-six places in the table. 

Long-time gaffer Streich - stepping down at the end of this season after nearly three decades of grooming young talents for his beloved club - had strong words for fans critical of youngsters such as Kiliann Sildillia, Jordy Makengo, and (in particular) rookie keeper Noah Atubolu. Freiburg fans whistled down Atubolu after the 21-year-old mishit a clearance last night. Streich made sure to back his net-minder after a performance that featured several important saves. 

"I'm concerned for him," Streich [as quoted by Kicker Magazine journalist Daniela Frahm] noted, "There's far too much drama on social media, or 'unsocial' media if you will. We are SC Freiburg and we have a 21-year-old keeper from our own city and youth team. That's precisely our way." 

Streich pointed to Atubolu's nine clean sheets this season. The youth whom Freiburg somewhat controversially tapped to work as the last line of defense for the team this season has shut out league opponents as many times as Stuttgart's Alexander Nübel. Only Leverkusen's Lukas Hradecky (14 clean sheets) stands above the pair. Atubolu has also done reasonably well in managing a heavy workload of 41 total competitive fixtures.

While insisting that Atubolu was a "cool customer" who will "probably still pull through", Streich nevertheless expressed concern for Atubolu and young players in general in the "Age of Social Media". The 58-year-old, for obvious reasons, has never been a fan of the societal developments of the last 25 years. Streich still acknowledged that he understood why it remained an essential part of young people's lives. 

"I can't say to him, 'switch off all your social media'," Streich [again, quoted by Frahm] said, "These guys at 21 then think they're alone in the world. It's like putting my pants on in the morning for them. [He should know that] The whole team and coaching staff supports him."

Streich insisted that Freiburg would have been in a significantly worse position without Atubolu. The SCF trainer then went on to name another young talent who has made mistakes and had some struggles this year: 22-year-old left-back Jordy Makengo. Streich made specific demands of his fan base.

"They should be proud that such players play for us," he said.  
 

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