Play It Again, Johnno!

28 01 2010

Watching press conferences given by professional sportsman is by and large an incredibly dull experience. Gone are the days when sportsman are regularly caught out by questions and/or provide a frank and sometimes controversial answer. These days a vital part of a players arsenal is the ability to deflect and answer questions in a manner that by the time they have finished speaking, you realise they have said nothing at all. Managers on the other hand usually pursue a slightly different approach, talking about great environments, going in the right directions, ‘taking positives’ out of yet another thumping and generally trying to remain upbeat. You can understand it of course but it is mind numbingly dull.

An example of the first category is Monty Panesar who when asked practically any question under the sun, usually ends up by saying something along the lines of “I’m just trying to get the ball in the right areas, if I do that enough batsmen will get out, I will be successful for England and enjoy my cricket”. As you can see this is a suitable answer to questions as contrary as: “What do you put your success in taking 8 wickets today to?” To “tell us why you were spanked for 130 runs in 12 overs today and you couldn’t turn the ball off straight, what went wrong? Are you worried about getting dropped?” To give Monty credit he will sometimes deliver these lines with a smile, knowing that a collective groan will travel around the room of journalists eager for something newsworthy.

Rafa Benitez and Martin Johnson are examples of managers who epitomise the second category. Both are involved in teams who are desperately struggling for form, talent and confidence yet to hear them talk you would think that only minor adjustments need to be made and suddenly they’ll be world beaters again. Johnson is quoted in today’s press stating that this is the best England squad he’s been involved in since he took over, the lack of English teams still in the Heineken Cup doesn’t mean anything and that England have a real chance in the 6 Nations. Mind you, he also mentioned Scotland in the same breath so this does take away from the previous statements credibility!

There are some laudable examples of sportsmen and managers who are not afraid to state their opinions. Subsequently they are usually viewed as mavericks, troublemakers and not entirely to be trusted by the various governing bodies which in turn can hurt their chances for higher honours or promotions. Brendan Venter of Saracens recently launched an attack on refereeing standards in the Guiness Premiership in a post match press conference. A topical subject which has attracted much debate in the media, but all that Venter got for voicing his opinion was a prosecution from the RFU for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game. Moving to cricket Rob Key, Captain of Kent, is someone who never holds back an opinion and this has possibly contributed to his non selection for the England sides of the past 5 years. These are not in the Tevez ‘Gary Neville is a moron and a boot-licker’ category but reasoned and honest appraisals of the state of the game etc which at times do not sit well with the authorities.

In today’s world of intrusive media coverage it is of course necessary that these players are trained how to avoid the many pitfalls, however it can make things very dull. For our part, the Compulsive Hooker is pleased there are still some straight talkers out there as there would not be much to write about otherwise!



One response

28 01 2010
Chris Allen

Very good, after Liverpool draw with Wolves, Rafa interviewed after and said, :”there were positives in the game, we kept a clean sheet” the kit look clean also! Should have said” We were utter crap, Stevie G wasnt interested and the rest of the team followed his example, all the players wages are going to Haitti “

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