As I mention in my programme piece “the happy albatross” the post-match dance of discussion which takes place between manager/player and journalist/volunteer is a thing of skill or at times an exercise in total futility.
I love this cartoon sent to me by my sister as it nails the topic with such cynicism.
There are a couple of good articles online exploring the topic which are worth a look.
The interesting feature as a volunteer is that you have a pressure from your peers to approach the task as a fan and as such you will therefore know what to ask to get to the crux of the matter. Your emotional involvement as a fan will unearth the truth and force the interviewee to face up to the reality that; this, that or the other isn’t good enough.
Note: folk only want to hear about what isn’t working. A 4-0 defeat will see the interview ratings soar. A 4-0 victory….Nah not so much.
The reality is that if you watch any post-match interview facilitated by the most respected of journalists they will inevitably ask the same half a dozen questions dressed in a variety of different outfits. The interview is therefore by its very nature always going to flatter to deceive. Consider the standard questions you have heard uttered across every news channel, every local, National and every satellite football broadcast.
In fact the questions themselves are so woven in to our DNA as supporters that “Match of the Day” can even take the stance of cutting out the question all together in their set pieces yet we still know exactly which one of the above list what was asked by the manner and tone of the answer.
So, as the dog whisperer may ponder the only real decision that appears to be left for the interviewer is one of style: “to lead or not to lead”
A) What are your thoughts?
B) You must be hurt by the manner of that crushing sole destroying defeat/delighted with that gargantuan earth shatteringly significant victory?
I was initially surprised by the fact that journalists (in second tier Scottish football) have such a set format to work to and they are not striving to put managers to the sword when they are under pressure. The reason appears to be clear “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” or at least the hand that gives you some copy to enable you to return next week to repeat the same process.
There is something quite endearing about this even though it doesn’t feed any supporters frothing at the mouth for change. What it appears to show is a degree of respect for the vulnerability of managers the challenging task they have. It also reflects the challenging nature of a task itself where (if you interview both managers) someone is going to be gutted/upset/annoyed or irritated by the outcome. It’s a steady hand that holds the mic after a shock cup exit to ask “Where now for your team?”
This is a stark contrast to fans forums where judgement is passed instantly and freely under anonymous user names. The gulf between the type of post-match analysis fans share and the information delivered from traditional broadcasters and club sites is huge. No longer is the after match post mortem restricted to pub debate or the occasional boardroom protest when enough is enough. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next decade.
Where will it go? maybe a club should experiment by calling a press conference for the Monday after a game when folk with user names culled from obsolete computer games and prog rock bands who never made it big should be made to hold that mic look the manager in the eye and put forward their “expert “points.
If that does ever take place who knows, it might be the salvation of Scottish football as it spirals into a parody of Mad Max with the ensuing armed combat between club staff and their alleged supporters on the Monday replacing Saturdays match as a spectacle. Neil Doncaster and his business team might even be able to secure a TV deal for that sort of action.
To be clear I’m not saying that’s a good thing but who wouldn’t want to be part of a far off future where Raith Rovers need to be managed by a 6 foot 9 ex MMA cage fighter with a robotic torso and telescopic reach?