When I say I’m convinced that the post-match interviews of both managers and players directly after games has had it’s day it’s probably the equivalent of a high street butcher openly promoting the annual convention of vegans.
After all I have found myself part of the post-match circus for the past fifteen years in which time I have had unfettered access to the deep inner sanctums of Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford, The Emirates Stadium and Anfield to name just the favoured few.
My microphone or Dictaphone have accompanied me to Portugal, Germany and Hong Kong in the pursuit of post-match rhetoric.
Harry Redknapp, Alain Perrin, Tony Adams, Avram Grant, Paul Hart, Michael Appleton, Guy Whittingham, Ritchie Barker, Andy Awford, Alan Mcloughlin, and now Paul Cook have all been my post-match prey over the years.
Up to now I have never had any of those varied characters of different temperaments storm away mid-sentence because being far from an expert I have deliberately strayed clear of any hint of post-match provocation bordering on what some might label ‘lame’.
It is all of course immeasurably easier if the team has won, won well or played magnificently as opposed to having lost, done so badly or somewhat controversially. If as at Pompey over the last few years a loss becomes the rule rather than the exception then the post-match routine becomes more than taxing for both sides of the camera.
But here is the question behind the crux of my conviction. What do we ever learn from the post- match parlance be it Paxman style or otherwise?
Well it is all rather self-explanatory. If the team have won the manager will more than not hail the team, tactics, effort and do so in good spirits. Likewise any player put forward.
A loss or even sometimes a draw can become slightly more problematic especially if it is part of a prolonged run. Let’s not forget that the post-match patter is an obligation on managers not something of their choice.
It is designed to take us into the mind and thinking of a manager yet within the same obligation they are unable to be critical of an official or make comment without risk of a fine. Only a very brave or unwise manager will publically berate players as either individuals or teams because it could be divisive and damaging long term to do so.
So at very best a manager can talk about his pride or hurt, his pleasure or anger and perhaps give a little insight into why he went with A rather than B. In other words the post-match interviews are rarely revealing or original and kind of tell you what you would already know: IE a manager is generally happy in victory and far less so in defeat.
Make no mistake about it what is said in public to a microphone is a world away from the discourse in private once in the dressing room. It is only there that a manager or player can give full vent to their true feelings regards the referee, performance of team, or individuals etc. Which brings me back to my original question: What do we actually learn that we didn’t already know from the post-match interview that is more often than not ridden with cliché and soundbite?
Furthermore who does it benefit? Following the game at Mansfield Paul Cook to all intents and purposes looked like a wounded animal.
He sought his own solitude far away in the home dug out no doubt trying to somehow summon the right words to say.
Why should he have that battle? His battle after all had been in the dug-out for the previous 90 minutes, which judging by his appearance, and lack of vocal power had been spent kicking and contesting every ball.
His battle had been before preparing for the match and agonising over certain selections and decisions which he alone stood or fell by. Besides which we need to get it in some kind of context here given that in the last couple of seasons a draw at Mansfield would have been the signal to get the bunting out and the street parties in full flow.
Yet by the standards he has set and in many ways his team generally up to this point a draw was like another crushing blow that he as much as most felt. Later in the week he was able to rationally discuss those moments which happened directly after the game, the source of his frustration and some of the thoughts going through his head.
This made for far more comprehensive understanding along with his general thoughts on the Mansfield game and journalists subsequently had learnt far more on leaving the training complex than they had directly after the game.
Therefore surely a tweak to post match where the obligation falls on a Monday morning is of benefit and useful to all. Instead of being made to pace around the pitch like a tormented beast desperately striving for the right thing to say, Paul Cook could have kept his own counsel disappeared onto the coach and collected his thoughts.
That at League 2 level would be an inconvenience for a handful of local press with the upside a far more lucid account coming from a far clearer head. It is surely worth the wait. It obviously wouldn’t be popular with the boys from the Portsmouth News and I totally understand why that is.
But at the end of the day it is just a changing of the order not a dispersal of it where the emphasis simply changes. Sure that leaves a temporary weekend hole but The News boys did great to improvise at real short notice recently when the Wimbledon game was called off.
Suddenly they were faced with five blank pages which were admirably filled and I can only imagine the Bank Holiday headache and upheaval that would have caused. The difference here is an expected changing of the order which can be planned for properly in advance
Fans who live off every post-match word might also find themselves suffering from withdrawal symptoms but again we are not depriving here-just delaying. Sky still delight showing moments like the Kevin Keegan meltdown where on the brink of tears he delivered his post-match “I’d love it’ delivery in the direction of Alex Ferguson via the television.
How they equally loved to catch Harry Redknapp walking out abruptly in a strop or an out of sorts Jose Mourinho at his most cryptic which to be fair could be at any time.
But the central point here is this. Is it clarity or drama we are after? A quality of words and match analysis. Or are we seeking merely pure theatre and words spewed out in high or low emotion minus much or any rationality simply for the sake of content?