I think we can all agree that the art of the post-match interview in football is one that is extremely useless. You can still find the very odd gem every once in a blue moon from an overly frustrated player or manager fresh off a controversial decision with a camera pointed in their face or when Jose Mourinho is on form.
For the most part these interviews are completely pointless, and everyone involved and everyone watching knows this. So why do we still do them after every single game?
Before a question is asked, we know what we are going to get from these interviews. If it’s a player or manager from a winning team, we will get a generic answer like it’s an excellent three points for us, but we must look ahead to our next game now.
If it’s a player or manager from a losing team they’ll hit us with something like look we were poor on the day, but we will look at the positives and learn from our mistakes. Not the most riveting stuff to be listening to multiple times a week.
You can understand why this is the way these interviews play out to be fair to them, especially in the modern game. The topics during these interviews are never in-depth discussions about tactical decisions made throughout the course of the game.
A lot of the questions are based are specific moments in a match mostly moments that impact that match. These topics are mentioned so frequently during these post-match interviews because the interviewer knows emotions are still running high. They want to get a juicy soundbite from the interviewee.
Plenty of fines have been handed out over the years. These come when a player or manager complains about something like referee or their decisions. Football Associations are understandable very quick to protect their officials.
Questions about officials are common in a post-match interview so you can see why a player or manager is quick to give a bland and formulaic answer most of the time when a topic like this is raised.
Players also are trained on how to handle the media. They also always have a press officer from the club close by. Many older fans complain that this is because of how everything is sanitised today in modern football, but this has been the case for as long as media was involved in football. Yes, back in the day football may have had more characters compared to the modern game.
Probably because a lot of them especially in the Irish and UK game were half footballer half piss head. Go back and listen to most post-match interviews from any era. While you will find some gems, they are still very bland on the behalf of a player or manager while representing their club.
These post-match interviews make for a strange environment where the interviewer almost knows the answer to the question they are about to ask. They just need to hear it from the mouth of the interviewee to fill time.
Players and managers will always state the obvious because the questions do have obvious answers for the most part. Yes, we tried our best and yes, we are disappointed to lose the game. We really can’t expect these people to come up with more really.
Its not the interviewers fault either. They can’t ask anything overly controversial either in fear that they’ll lose good faith at that club and miss out on further interviewing opportunities down the road. The interviewee also can’t say anything that might be taken out of context.
Then on the flip side if they don’t answer any questions they are labelled as grumpy and hard to work with. It really is a strange dance that all parties must play along with.
Especially on the part of the players we really can’t judge them to harshly. Even though now the media play a big part in the football world it really isn’t in the job descriptions for these players. Over the years we are all very quick to point and laugh at the likes of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard for not being the most confident or expressive during an interview.
These lads just want to play the game and, in a way, don’t want to be dealing with the media. We all want to get an insight into the mind of these sheltered athletes. These aren’t the environments to do so. Players are asked questions that they either are afraid to truly answer or that the only answer has been said a million times in the past.
This gets even worse when a young player is shoved out in front of the camera. They could have just scored their first senior goal and are only off the pitch. Now are expected to portrait all the emotions we want them to portrait in a very short period.
We have seen that these young players can have very touching moments during post-match interviews. The days of senior players standing in on an interview and shielding younger players from the media need to return.
Ultimately the post-match interview isn’t a dying art it’s a dead one in its current setup. Its set up to be repetitive and the fan will get nothing out of watching them. They also lose nothing from missing it simply exist to fill time in a television format. They won’t go away because they are now embedded into this format. So how do we improve them?
If they won’t go away, they must become somewhat meaningful to give people a reason to look at them. In an ideal world just bring out managers and coaches. They are much more capable and comfortable with handling the media. Instead of asking the same questions about refereeing decisions change it up a bit if it isn’t working.
Managers will be much more open if they feel they can answer a question without facing a fine for going slightly of the rail with the answer. Having a calm discussion about tactical decisions instead of providing provoking questions would result in a better discussion. Even Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has recently said as much.
Even if you really must get players involved don’t drag them in front of a camera after every single match. Only do it after big moments when we can see actual human emotion from the players instead of constant blandness. It was a breath of fresh air hearing a young lad like Trent Alexander-Arnold talking with real emotion in his voice about how any lad from Liverpool can make their dream come true straight after winning the Champions League in 2019.
Even listening to the interview given by Celtic player Jeremie Frimpong after winning the Scottish League Cup final in 2019. A game he got himself sent off in. He talked about how the game didn’t go personally well for him seeing a red card. Yet he still couldn’t stop smiling and was crying when the full-time whistle went. He spoke with such charm that BT Sport have the interview on their official YouTube account described as incredible.
It’s nothing truly incredible they are human at the end of the day. So if you know you aren’t going to get great insight from them on a weekly basis at least get great honest emotional reactions whenever you can. The two players I mentioned are 21 and 19. Neither spoke as a media trained zombie and spoke from the heart after huge moments in their careers.
Instead of overkill limit the players role in the post-match interview. Since the return of the Bundesliga Dortmund player Erling Haaland has been criticised from his post match interviews. Honestly while he doesn’t say much and its clear by his body language that he doesn’t want to be there at all at least it’s a shred of personality being shown.
His short not bothered one-word answers do get tiresome very quickly but at least its not the same robotic answers other players recite and recycle each week. He clearly hasn’t been working on his interview etiquette while on lock down. Yet his interviews are different and if one-word answer interviews are standing out there lies the main problem.
All we want is for irritated players and managers to stop been forced to give the same useless pieces of nuggets during interviews. We as fans just want the interviewer and interviewee to work together. Not just give us another soundbite but actual useful titbits, we can get our teeth into. It doesn’t have to be always ground-breaking, but some variety is all we ask for. Shake up a format that clearly doesn’t work and let these people breath and be natural.