BBC BLOGS - Jacqui Oatley
Main | Next »

Meeting the men in charge

Post categories:

Jacqui Oatley | 14:23 UK time, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

It's a funny old game, Saint. Eight months on from writing my last blog at Euro 2008, which was about interviewing Guus Hiddink, I've been asked to write again, only to find that the news is full of.....Guus Hiddink.

The great Dutchman is Chelsea-bound and will become a regular face and voice on our airwaves, for the next three months at least. From a journalist's point of view, that has to be a good thing. A man with vast experience of world football who speaks excellent English but doesn't suffer fools should go down well with the British football public.

Guus Hiddink meets the press during Euro 2008He's different to Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose Chelsea media conferences were usually entertaining but often baffling. For example, I asked Scolari once whether he shared Rafa Benitez's views on the busy international calendar - he seemed to agree and disagree in equal measure, leaving journalists scratching their heads as to what to report.

What about other managers and their approach to the media? I, like many other reporters, was sad if not surprised to hear of the departure of Tony Adams from Portsmouth. In my experience, Adams was always polite and patient, on and off air, and tried to give his honest view. Perhaps he was too honest for his own good at times, answering questions such as "where do you think it went wrong today, Tony?" with "I really don't know."

To many, that was refreshing, to others (such as his bosses, no doubt) a little concerning. He had one habit which amused and frustrated broadcasters in particular. Adams would think so deeply about answering a simple question that, after speaking for a minute or so, he'd have to ask "what was the question again?" Whilst endearing, it led to reporters muttering "I hope he doesn't lose his train of thought like that with the players or they could be in trouble".

I was talking to a journalism student the other day who asked me "who do you most enjoy interviewing?" I immediately answered "Arsene Wenger". She told me that everyone said that. The reason is simple. The Frenchman will always answer the question, whether he's comfortable with it or not. His words are always considered and he'll often tell you something you weren't expecting to hear, although sometimes what you weren't wanting to hear! He's also quite happy to have a laugh with you if you're trying to tease something out of him.

Other personal favourites include Neil Warnock, who manages to verbally assassinate referees with a big grin on his face, and Mick McCarthy, who has a wonderful Yorkshire turn of phrase and a highly amusing ability to adapt swear words for the occasion! Someone should compile a book of his quotes and make sure the asterisk key on their keyboard is fully functional...

Seeing as I work for the BBC, I haven't interviewed Sir Alex Ferguson but have spoken to many reporters who have. The consensus is that the man absolutely terrifies them! One television sound engineer told me that Sir Alex has been known to amuse himself in a media conference by playing a little game. He'd randomly select one of the assembled microphones in front of him and casually pick at the foam protector whilst speaking. He'd then look around the room to see which sound man was going berserk, knowing his day's work was ruined!

Leicester's Nigel Pearson is an interesting character. It's fair to say that he's not too keen on the media. I realised this when I covered his side's recent FA Cup defeat at Crystal Palace. While I was doing my preparation, I listened online to an interview he'd given to local radio and, on hearing several sarcastic answers, thought "oh, he doesn't like the interviewer". I then heard him speak in person after the game and realised he doesn't like any interviewers! Leicester fans won't care a jot, though, as he's doing a fantastic job and they look a certainty for promotion.

That's the way it works for football managers. Win games and nobody cares about your public demeanour. Fail to win them and everything you say and how you say it will be heavily scrutinised. Just ask Benitez and Adams.

Comments

  • 1. At 7:12pm on 11 Feb 2009, Bollo wrote:

    haha fergie.

    but whats the deal with interviewers, whats the point when anything they say gets twisted anyway into some ridiculous headline.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 8:45pm on 11 Feb 2009, contemplativedokus wrote:

    Seems article says more about the journalists cozing up to the people being interviewed, which in mmost cases is not a good sign. The terrifying ordeal towards Fergusson speaks for itself in this regard, that is probably the whole tactic of him. In depth interviews are scatchy, and on BBC most often ex players with thier biased views. Hiddink has a profound knowledge of the game, is very open on tv and giving commentary on dutch tv about games. It all depends on interviewers attemp to extract best available information. Most often are very soft questions, and anybody knows already the answer. Should be refreshing if some new blood flows through the circles of journalism, gets a bit sedated.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 9:09pm on 11 Feb 2009, used2beprofi wrote:

    interesting...would love to read tales of other foreign managers and their shenanigans in the pressroom...

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 09:50am on 12 Feb 2009, heinzeforking wrote:

    I'm finding it hard to understand the last paragraph. It's clear to see that Benitez and Adams have both got a rough ride from the tabloids but one is doing a fantastic job at the top end of the league and the other one really struggled and his team dropped like a stone.

    Benitez gets slated whether he wins or not. I doubt Adams would have got so heavily slated had he only lost one league game all season.

    Thought the rest of the article was very good though. :)

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 09:53am on 12 Feb 2009, ronaldo_rocket wrote:

    Interesting point about Wenger, i'd be a little bored about interviewing him though- especially as he 'didn't see it!'

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 09:54am on 12 Feb 2009, kevthered83 wrote:

    I always loved watching interviews with Ranieri, even when he was serious he would make me laugh (usually unintentionally). I dont think I would have been able to interview him with a straight face!

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 10:08am on 12 Feb 2009, Ali_Don wrote:

    Im surprised you did not mention Jose Mourinho. Surely he is one of the most interesting characters to interview. I agree with Neil Warnock as well. But Neil is a sore loser though.

    Pearson is an interesting choice. He quite clearly doesnt like the media exposure and doing interviews. He is one of the most boring men in the game. He is emotionless, win, lose or draw you will see the same expression on his face. I, and many other Leicester fans, dont care one bit though. We are top of the league and he is doing an immense job.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 10:12am on 12 Feb 2009, SecretRedBennett wrote:

    4. At 09:50am on 12 Feb 2009, heinzeforking wrote:
    I'm finding it hard to understand the last paragraph. It's clear to see that Benitez and Adams have both got a rough ride from the tabloids but one is doing a fantastic job at the top end of the league and the other one really struggled and his team dropped like a stone.

    Benitez gets slated whether he wins or not. I doubt Adams would have got so heavily slated had he only lost one league game all season.
    --------------------------------------------------------

    The reason you don't understand the last paragraph is because you're rephrasing it.

    You're going by how many Benitez hasn't lost, which is obviously a great record and the reason you're second in the league, but Jacqui is going by how many he "failed to win", which, obviously includes wins & draws, which is the reason you're not first.

    And, as Jacqui mentions, this is the reason Rafa is heavily scrutinised.
    You should, on paper, be first, due to the excellent results you've had against the top teams, but the draws against lesser opposition are going to bring his tactics into question.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 10:16am on 12 Feb 2009, juninhowept wrote:

    Great article, really interesting. Love that story about Fergie - must be great to be able to behave like that! I met Arsene a while back in France, he was an absolute gent, and I can't help but respect the way he likes to play the game, and his refusal to compromise. I met 'Arry once, remember the story of him being interviewed at his training ground and saying he would not sign a player, when all of a sudden said player ran past behind him in training kit? class!

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 11:07am on 12 Feb 2009, red_side_up wrote:

    I dont get that last paragraph, 'That's the way it works for football managers. Win games and nobody cares about your public demeanour. Fail to win them and everything you say and how you say it will be heavily scrutinised. Just ask Benitez and Adams.'

    Are you saying that Benitez fails to win games? If so, i'm worried for your sake.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 11:57am on 12 Feb 2009, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    Hi Jaqui.
    Interesting read particularly on the general consensus regarding some of the top managers. SAF sounds particularly scary. Hiddink has a good track record and had no trouble outsmarting Smiler, despite having a weaker team.
    I am surprised that Scholari was sacked. Mihir Bose had his ''well placed sources'' and his ''insiders'' and was cofident we was untouchable in his blog a couple of weeks ago. At least Hiddink is safe.

    What is the betting on Hiddink continuing in a dual role, if he is successful.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 12:09pm on 12 Feb 2009, juninhowept wrote:

    no 10 - "Are you saying that Benitez fails to win games? If so, i'm worried for your sake." - why do scousers have a permanent grudge? yes, benitez has failed to win games, since his little spat with fergie. obviously. get a grip and cheer up

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 12:11pm on 12 Feb 2009, James wrote:

    In response to #10's last point, Benitez, following his series of eyebrow raising press conferences, found his team subsequently dropping points, hence the media calling his manner of dealing with his off the field issues into question.

    Oh, great blog, by the way. :)

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 1:25pm on 12 Feb 2009, jonny wrote:

    I don't understand what's so great about Ferguson picking at a mike. So he's just ruined a day's work for someone - what a nice guy, I wish I was like him.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 1:25pm on 12 Feb 2009, Born_Again wrote:

    The best interviewee has to be WGS:

    Interviewer: "Can we have a quick word Gordon?"
    WGS "Velocity"

    Brilliant.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 2:06pm on 12 Feb 2009, timwebber wrote:

    Completely agree with you #14.

    He sounds like a sadistic little beetroot.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 2:19pm on 12 Feb 2009, Wash wrote:

    One television sound engineer told me that Sir Alex has been known to amuse himself in a media conference by playing a little game. He'd randomly select one of the assembled microphones in front of him and casually pick at the foam protector whilst speaking. He'd then look around the room to see which sound man was going berserk, knowing his day's work was ruined!
    -------------------------------------------------


    So it's permissible for SAF to find 'fun' in ruining someone's good work, but the moment Real Madrid mention that they want to sign the Gelled Tumbler they are the spawn of satan.
    Strikes me the the old beetroot really might have to consider growing up a little...

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 2:41pm on 12 Feb 2009, steviemac14 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 19. At 2:44pm on 12 Feb 2009, DH87 wrote:

    Surely the worst person to ask a question would be Marcel Desaille (sp?). You can guarantee every answer references to his favourite subject: the France national football team in the era of Marcel Desaille.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 2:45pm on 12 Feb 2009, DH87 wrote:

    Stevie Mac, I 100% agree, Blogging is much easier to avoid.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 3:24pm on 12 Feb 2009, Ricko wrote:

    No.14 and No.16 don't believe everything you read lads eh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 4:16pm on 12 Feb 2009, soccerlifer wrote:

    Nice blog, but......probably not your fault, but the link on the BBC Football page refers to "handling the likes of Hiddink and Benitez" , yet the entire article hardly refers to what Benitez is like to interview.....which is why I decided to read it. Well, I guess they achieved their aim.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 5:11pm on 12 Feb 2009, Armchair Dave wrote:

    Not being a journalist, I don't get to see the full chat from football managers; only an edited, sanitized version from the TV channel or newspaper.

    However, this does remind me of "The Impossible Job" which I re-watched recently. For anyone who doesn't know, this is a documentary (made by ITV/C4) following then England manager Graham Taylor during his failed World Cup qualifying.

    I'm not English but at the time, the only impression I got of the man was some sort of turnip-headed buffoon. After watching the documentary and seeing how he handled the aggressive press, I had a new found respect for the man.

    So results do matter. Graham Taylor semed like a really nice guy who could enjoy a joke and a laugh with the press - but that's not what they reported him as due to results.

    I think it's interesting to see what managers personalities are like. Despite the wide TV coverage, it's something we rarely see - only glimpses like this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 5:20pm on 12 Feb 2009, dondon1961 wrote:

    Cant belive the anti woman quotes above. Just cos jacki doesnt sound like Motty she must be bad? Sounds like a step forward to me. Dont listen to them J you must be better than JP and Lineker the crisp magnet

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 5:21pm on 12 Feb 2009, Vox Populi wrote:

    14. 16 & 17. Please learn what hyperbole for the sake of comic purposes means.

    It's a wry anecdote about Ferguson. It's a joke. He is not destroying reporters' laptops or stealing their notebooks.

    Please get a grip.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 5:26pm on 12 Feb 2009, jonny wrote:

    Don't believe everything you read? It's the BBC. Why would they make something like that up?

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 6:06pm on 12 Feb 2009, jonny wrote:

    And in response to 25, the problem is that it's a joke that's not funny.

    The article states that the sound engineer would "know his day's work was ruined!"

    This doesn't strike me as hyperbole or a good anecdote. It just shows that he appears to be a horrible man.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 6:59pm on 12 Feb 2009, CaerswsndScouse wrote:

    27. I agree with you, it would be like taking a reporters pen and breaking it so they couldn't type thus ruining their days work?

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 7:53pm on 12 Feb 2009, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    Who can blame Fergie or any manager for despising the media ??? Look at how much BS they write. Interviews will be often include many reporters/spin doctors many of whom will be seen as enemies by managers and players.

    Coping with the media is obviously something Fergie does well and is something that the managers and players need to be well aware of using to their advantage.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 7:57pm on 12 Feb 2009, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    It's not just that Rafa has failed to win games. His contract negotiations, player negotiations, liverpool ownership ect ect. It all boils up.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 01:13am on 13 Feb 2009, redforever wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 32. At 09:33am on 13 Feb 2009, SpesshalKay wrote:

    Loved the insight, Jacqui. About time we heard from you again after all your good stuff during Euro 2008. Ignore the grumblers on here. If you didn't know already, there are a lot of people who love a good whinge and use the blogs to get stuff off their chests.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 11:48am on 13 Feb 2009, FA_Equals_Fergusons_Alliance wrote:

    secretredbennett

    I find it difficult to accept you criticizing Benitez's tactics considering he is 3 places higher then his start-of-season predictions and was the first to see the flaw in Scolari's seemingly unstoppable tactics.I agree that Liverpool should be first but Gerrard and Torres our our only consistent match winners and they cannot score every game.Rafa is doing the best with what he has but to be honest we should have better than Kuyt on the right wing.

    Great article Jacqui.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 4:11pm on 13 Feb 2009, deanster101 wrote:

    My mate’s cousin’s girlfriend who also works for the BBC (so it must be true) told me that Sir Alex has been known to casually pluck the heads off children’s teddies just to see them cry their eyes out. Cracks him up every time apparently.

    #28 He is also renowned for breaking reporters pens but much to his consternation it never stops them from typing!

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 4:29pm on 13 Feb 2009, thinkstuff wrote:

    An interesting and different perspective on the subject of interviewing, Jacqui. Enjoyed it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 04:37am on 14 Feb 2009, arsenal juice wrote:

    Good sneaky way of getting around not having to write about Guus, well done

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 06:08am on 15 Feb 2009, G_is_God wrote:

    I enjoyed the article. I was wondering, Jacqui, what is your take on the constant criticism that Benitez gets from the media? Is it perhaps because he is not the one for the interviews? Knowing that Hiddink is similar in his handling of the media it will be interesting to see how media perceives him few months down the line. But I dare to say that the focus will remain on Benitez, for some reason he seems too easy to pick on. Zonal marking this, rotation that...yawn.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 09:22am on 16 Feb 2009, StamfordBridgeStillStands wrote:

    33.

    I disagree with your assessment that Liverpool were the first to stop Scolari's tactics. It was the Man Utd home game where our wing backs were stopped, and then slowly but surely following Liverpool's win by the same means other teams also started to follow suit. Liverpool just got more press because they broke our home record and it was more of a surprise.

    People criticse Scolari's sacking but if his tactics were so clear and easily hindered then it is no surprise we started drawing to lesser teams and being beaten by the bigger teams.

    Good blog by the way Jacqui, i think the Ferguson anecdote typifies the man. He realises the power, control and authority he exudes and uses it in football(for example against referees) and media situations(media can be a useful tool) to give his team the best chance of winning. Using the media is a very important part of being a winnign manager. Somehting the likes of Fergie and Mourinho have mastered.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 11:46am on 16 Feb 2009, RetiredNo6 wrote:

    In my short first career as a journalist (working for a north west radio station) I interviewed the managers of the north wests "Big 4" (United, City, Liverpool and Everton).

    Well actually I didn't. I only shadowed the head of sport in a Fergie interview. He a 4 minute slot with Ferguson. 3 and a half minutes into which Fergie decided he'd had enough and swore at the guy and told him his time was up.

    Rafa Benitez I found to be extremely dull as much as anything. Plays everything so close to his chest, and I bet when he had his rant a few weeks back it was a welcome relief to the usual tedium for the regulars in the Melwood and Anfield press rooms.

    Kevin Keegan, the City manager at the time, was a breath of fresh air in that he was honest and always good copy. He had no ability to hide his emotions and what you got from Kevin was genuinely what he thought. Also if he did have a little tantrum one week (and he occasionally did) he would always seek out the person that bore the brunt of it the next week to apologise.

    David Moyes was the best of the bunch. Honest yet cautious, polite, patient and pleasant and actually seemed to have a level of trust with journalists. Which I'm certain has been a major factor in the positive press coverage that he's always had.

    Just thought I'd share those experiences.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 7:18pm on 16 Feb 2009, G_is_God wrote:

    to poster #39, thank you. That only confirms my hypothesis that media dislike Rafa coz he is too boring in his interviews. Again, lets see how they like Hiddink!

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 06:43am on 17 Feb 2009, M wrote:

    People don't seem to be able to understand the last paragraph very well because they're looking for something to be contentious about.

    It simply means that when Rafa blows his mouth off about other teams and managers and then goes on to fail to win the next game, he's bound to get torn apart by the press. It doesn't say anywhere that he consistently fails to win games.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 3:16pm on 19 Feb 2009, wondergeorge123 wrote:

    Good blog Jacqui, interesting reading. Going off on a bit of a tangent...what do you think about the new Womens Professional League in America and what effect do you think it will have on the womens game in England?

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 11:49am on 16 May 2009, archieme wrote:

    Is it's not totally articled related, but to paraphrase Owen Wilson fron Armageddon - 'do you agree that Jacqui is hot!'

    Came as a surprise, was expecting a Claire type(no criticism, wonderful about the geegees!)

    Err, that's it really, won't get posted, but the nation should speak - I pay for it after all!!!(well me and one or 55 million others)

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 11:56am on 16 May 2009, archieme wrote:

    No, I seem to be in a minority of one! But as SCW said, that doesn't mean I'm wrong!!!

    I know you are a hottie Jacqui - keep doing what you do, and enjoy it! Because you are good at it! God, if in any doubt come to Scotland and hear the people here!!!

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

More from this blog...

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.