Post-match interviews: what’s the point?

Ben Mountain

“The lads done well”, “Game of two halves”, “Showed some great spirit”. You’ve heard all of these before, so why do we insist on spending hours hearing them again? Post-match interviews: there’s simply no place for them.

Week in, week out football fans, we’re constantly subjected to the tiresome cruelty that is the post-match interview.

It’s a chance for managers and players alike to trot out their favourite idioms and adages from the magic hat of safe and tired old expressions. Almost every time seems to be the same and yet we all continue to open our ears to this mindless drivel, in search of god knows what.

Has no one clocked the algorithm yet? It goes loosely like this:

  1. “It was a good/bad game and the lads done well/poorly.”
  2. “I can’t blame the referee but he was a complete philistine.”
  3. “I’m now going to insert a vague football-based cliche here and hope it’s relevant.”
  4. “We’re gonna get back into training on Monday and focus on the next game.”
  5. “Awkward goodbye, Mr Mowbray. Thanks for wasting my time.”

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For those of you who have ever wondered what they actually teach at coaching school, it’s that. Take note.

There’s very little in the way of tactical analysis, honesty, scandal or even insight during these post-match snippets. Both managers and players don’t want to take part in them because they’re just minefields for saying something that ‘brings the game into disrepute’, as the FA like to remind us.

Question the ref for an appalling decision? Disrepute.

Give your honest opinion on the quality or tactics of the opposition? Disrepute.

Cheat and scam your way into millions of pounds and corrupt the global sport? Disrepute. Pay rise.

But that’s another issue.

The real problem that we have is in the tired format of the interviews. They’ve become so restrained that those involved can hardly discuss the actual game without either an FA injunction or a viral Vine doing the rounds to pages of shocked little emojis.

When a gaffer comes even close to voicing their opinion or, god forbid, straying from the safety of the tried-‘n’-tested idiom book, they’re instantly snapped back into line by a media storm or slap on the wrist from the almighty authorities.

They’re the precise reason why everyone pretends to love Jurgen Klopp and the pantomime villain of Jose Mourinho so much. One soft little wise-crack here, one ‘so-and-so is a mug’ there, and you’re heralded as a real great personality or as quite the character.

In fact, just writing these cheap little phrases is painful. Imagine having to repeat them every game.

And, asides from the governing shackles that strangle open discussion, there’s another small problem. Whilst we’re not going to fall back on the old and largely inaccurate view that footballers aren’t the brightest millionaire bulbs in the box, it is certainly true that their lives are somewhat more restricted and limited from even an early age.

They’re hardly going to change the face of the earth with their witticisms after exhausting themselves for over ninety minutes. Hell, Shakespeare didn’t whack out his sonnets with a BTEC Sport and dirty shin-pads on, so how could a footballer?

No, the best we can expect from that bunch is a nice, comfortable “Erm, yeah we gotta fight on”. If they successfully manage that, we can adorn them with deified status. But only then. A footballer can only be glorified once they’ve passed the post match interview. They then become captain material with their heads screwed on at this point.

Mr Gerrard, we’re looking at you.

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It’s that segment of the TV coverage we all lean forward for, feigning interest, but as waves of cliched answers wash over us, don’t we all quietly pray for a news interruption or a loss of signal? Yes. But, sadly, we all slope off to the pub instead and recite what we learned from the interview.

You heard what the gaffer said? Shocking. Yeah, ‘great team performance’ he reckons. I say it was good, at best. And, for the matter, partly individual. So…

No one cares. We don’t hear anything new. So why bother? The fans don’t want them and neither do the players or managers that suffer in them. Who out there genuinely benefits from a post-match interview? No one, it would seem. Especially not this fella’s missus. Oh, to hear this in England…

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