MATT HUGHES of the Times, this week, became the latest journalist, from a growing chorus, to sing from the roof tops about his discontent at Kenny Dalglish’s handling of the British press. He states in his column with unrestrained pomposity :
“ The Liverpool manager’s increasingly and condescending approach to the media does not become him or the great club who employ him”
In a recent Anfield Wrap podcast, Rory Smith (soon to be of the Independent) astutely observed that the younger generation of hacks covering Liverpool are not at all attuned to Kenny Dalglish’s modus operandi or attitude towards the media. Matt Hughes’s piece seems endemic of this.
Back in Kenny’s day football reporters wrote reports of football matches, and football managers managed their teams. From Kenny’s perspective, it may well be a Premier league stipulation that coaches have to give of themselves on certain set occasions within the football calendar, but he darn well doesn’t have to like it.
Here’s the thing Matt Hughes of the Times – the reason you are not sensing any love or respect from Kenny Dalglish is simply because he doesn’t like you. Or respect you. Well, certainly not within the context of him attempting to do his job properly.
The UK football media has grown more self important with each passing decade. Sky’s raising of football’s profile has concurrently given freer reign to the beast that is the journalistic ego. The sport’s media have become increasingly self referential (see Sky’s ‘The Sunday Supplement’ as a case in point) and what used to be a plague only on England managers, is now visited on the club coaches as well.
Matt Hughes’ ego tells him that he is performing a public service by grilling a manager as to his transfer targets or potential team selection. His breed of journalist feel they are providing THE crucial communicative link between the sport, as entertainment, and its information hungry audience. His ilk will comment on Sunday Supplement style shows about how good or bad a manager ‘is with us’. He and they believe that their judgement of a managers media performance is important.
They are wrong. They are not required. Football is the world’s biggest sport precisely because it is not merely entertainment. There is nothing remotely entertaining about going to support Liverpool take on, say, Manchester United. It is a painful, stressful experience from start to finish occasionally punctuated by moments of ecstasy or despair. Entertainment is something else. It isn’t football.
As a fan I may be so anxious and concerned with an impending fixture that I’m desirous of every titbit of inside information on anything that may effect that game, but that doesn’t mean I feel , despite being ‘a paying customer’, that I am entitled to it. Those demands are the preserve of the neutral or the post Sky revolution ‘soccer fan’. This animal is sated not by being present at the event itself, but feeling he/she has to sample the ‘weigh in’ type circus rendered entertainment by the likes of Jose Mourinho, and lapped up by the newer breed of football journalist.
Jose is a master of the modern juxtaposition between sport and media. He has a ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ approach. His master plan is to harness the energy of media driven hype and make it work for him and his mission to psychologically empower his team, and intimidate his opponents.
There is nothing wrong with this, even it does stick somewhat in the Corinthian craw. It’s a way of doing business. His way of doing things. What it isn’t, is Mourinho attempting to be courteous or respectful of the media or to communicate with the paying public. He is blatantly using all concerned to win a game, by any means necessary.
This where Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish are entirely in sync, and where the likes of Matt Hughes entirely miss the point. Kenny does not feel his talents are best addressed towards trying to manipulate his players or his opponents via the media. He feels (like Mourinho) that his single purpose is to help Liverpool football club win football matches. He is not there to be liked or to communicate with anyone but his players.
Is this inherently disrespectful to his team’s fans ? Of course it isn’t. He trusts that the Liverpool public he grew up with and led to so much success demand only that he give his all for the cause of making the team on the pitch a winning one.That public are an educated one, who understand that the manager is best serving the team and fans interests by telling journalists as close to absolutely nothing as he can physically manage.
Why on earth should he tell journalists what his intentions are as regards playing Steven Gerrard ? That may satisfy some curiosities but it will also give his next opponent an inkling of an insight into Liverpool’s planning. As Rafa Benitez always preached, the devil, or the winning in football’s case, is always ‘ in the small details’.
Kenny’s press conferences are, ironically, hugely entertaining to Liverpool fans. Watching him spikely spar with the media, telling them fuck all, whilst also taking the piss out of the eternally hapless, like Sky’s Vinnie O’Connor, is never anything less than compelling viewing/listening. If Kenny is prone to occasional rudeness and to putting down certain journalists it is because he (rightly) feels that they are insulting his intelligence by asking certain questions.
It is abundantly clear that he is not in the business of giving anything away that he feels may assist his opponents or damage his team, yet questioner after questioner, at any given Liverpool press conference, will attempt to outmanoeuvre him by making the same enquiry in a number of guises. It is relentless and predictable and Dalglish tires of it. Sorry Matt Hughes and others, but that’s just the way it is.
The fans are of course always ready to hear more real insight, but are content to see the main man doing his real job well. They know that there is no silverware for making journalists happy, although despite Matt Hughes disdain, Kenny does still seem to do a reasonable job at keeping a roomful of the press brimming more with mirth than resentment. The smarter hacks appear to have come to appreciate the man’s quickness and scornful wit as having a certain unique charm.
The football public did once live in a universe where managers were more seen than heard, and their appreciation of the game and passion felt for teams was not even slightly diminished by the absence of an interrogative media. The likes of Shanks, or Clough, or Mourinho, will always be around to throw fish for journos, and be able to do that to the satisfaction of all whilst also doing their day jobs rather well.
Others like Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish will never give the press anything of note. They remain equally beloved of their constituency, the fans, and will strive tirelessly to deliver to that group a bounty to a level of satisfaction that can only ultimately be measured only in points, prizes and trophies. Not soundbites.
I agree wholeheartedly with this. Overall, there is nothing that is more likely to kill my enjoyment of sports than self-congratulatory windbags of the media.
Kenny’s press conferences are a joy to behold as a fan(though they could come with subtitles)
King Kenny at presser;
“Where’s Vinny? is he ill?”
“No, he’s off today”
“Pity, hoped he was ill”
Now I’d pay money to witness banter like that. Journos are miffed because he’s verbally slapping them down good and proper. Long live the King!
brilliant rob .. again !
King Kenny’s dismissive attitude towards the media was the first thing that stood out following his appointment … I remember vividly when he got of the airport and Sky mobbed him and he said there’ll be plenty of time for questions at the press conference tomorrow …. or away at Wolves when he told the Sky reporter what did he know about the LFC fans … a true Liverpool man and that’s why we love him YNWA
Great read, Rob, and all to the point! Thank you for putting in written something that many of us have been thinking.
Couldn’t read that Times piece, but wonder, did Mr.Hughes also bring an example of other club managers who tend to be not so polite with journalists? Or he left all that space for Kenny only?
I personally love the way Kenny treats the journos who are like vultures, happy to make a meal of anything, whether it is related to football or not. They can be really damaging sometimes. And not exlusively towards LFC, other clubs suffer from their “analysis” too.
At least Kenny is not being misleading, he just gives away sod all… but they gotta love Redknapp, who loves talking to the press but often just murmurs something which has no or little touch with what is really going on or his real plans, etc.
Quite right. However…
The big problem is, if you have a look at the comments and blogs on the LFC website, that many of the “fans”, whether because they are too young, too stupid or too gullible, buy this whole journo hype schtick. All they know is the Sky way of presenting football – you know, it didn’t actually exist before the Premier League etc. – resulting in moronic criticism and ignorance of the workings of the club and the priorities of the manager.
They often say that LFC have the most knowledgeable fans – I’m sad to say that this fanbase has been infested by a huge amount of ignorant johnny-come-latelys who seem to spend their time whining on internet message boards about matters they obviously don’t understand in the slightest. This is the environment Hughes and his ilk have created, so it’s heartening to see that there are signs of a resistance movement. Keep it up!
Good point well made, Kenny has no obligation to the press. Maybe it rubs them the wrong way but Jesus they should grow thicker skin, especially when they spout such rubbish after it. Keep it up Kenny answers on the pitch, not sky sports soundbites.
Excellent article Rob. The contrast between a Kenny presser and one of Woy’s couldn’t be greater. Whereas our previous manager felt under pressure to answer every question put to him (regardless how damaging his response might be), Kenny knows exactly how to play the game with the media.
I love watching Kenny’s press conferences and would change them in any way, shape or form!
Love that closing line.
Great article too.
Im one of those who has been around long enough to want our club, not just our manager, to say nothing. Rumours and soundbites are for others. Take each game as it comes, keep your feet on the ground when we win and dont blow your top if we lose. And if we sign a player I much prefer to hear about it once the signature is on the paper. The latter is nigh on impossible nowadays, but I still prefer no comment on the matter until its done. In short, its the return of ‘the Liverpool way’.
great post big man i will be tweeting the fuck out of it
Spot on, mate. Now if only you could get the toe rags on fleet street to read it. The first time Kenny opened his mouth after being re-appointed, I said to me arl fella, that it just felt right having him back after the disasters of Roy’s interviews. Kenny told us absolutely nothing he/the club didn’t want us to know and was entertaining, charming and funny. I guess these are things the current crop of journo’s never learned about in journo school. Now they’ve got to read between the lines, figure out what he meant, make a hypothesis. All sounds like work to me that. No wonder they’re not happy haha. The more Kenny, the better.
Sid Lowe: “Has the environment around the game changed?”
Juanma Lillo: “Yes, the garnish has eaten the steak.”
If he treats the ‘media’ like that then he can no have complaints when – not if – it all starts to go wrong. ‘The media’ do not play the matches, yet are blamed when all goes wrong at Liverpool.
And to suggest that Dalglish is being treated badly by ‘the media is surely incorrect. He has been given a pass – for now.
After all he is trying to get on with his job, but then again, so are they. No need to be rude, is there?
ha ha rednev get a grip. “he can no have complaints when – not if – it all starts to go wrong”. So it’s going to go wrong for Liverpool under Kenny is it? Who are you – Mystic Meg or a Mystic Manc?
There is every need to be rude when asked stupid questions that are beneath him answering. Or when asked about the opposition team’s performance before his own, as he was last night.
Good read and great points. Makes me laugh every time I hear someone in the media what a ‘great / nice guy’ someone is just because they are willing to provide media filling sound bites (‘Arry being a great example).
Respect is a 2 way street. Is there any wonder why some managers refuse to ‘suck up and play the game nicely’ when they face the kind of reporting we saw in the Guardian and Independant following the loss to Stoke.
On a more general point in relation to journalists, football managers, ever increasingly frequent encounters between the two and the interviews they produce; how unbelievably banal are 99% of these pre-match discussions becoming? I caught a glimpse of Nigel Adkins speaking ahead of the Southampton vs Preston League Cup tie with a veritable bombardment of cliches. “One game at a time”, “treat the competition with respect” blah blah blah. It’s the same with more or less every single one. The only nugget of interesting information offered up is how injured players are progressing, which is often to be taken with a pinch of salt anyway.
Similarly, the sheer mundanity of 99% of player interviews offer us an equivalent level of non-insight into anything remotely interesting. Print media is a dying format undoubtedly, and it’s clear that journalists reporting on any given event will most probably not be able to reveal it as an exclusive anymore given that the story can break on Twitter instantaneously rendering the hours they’ve spent slobbering over a keyboard and feverishly utilising every name in their contact book wasted with one “ITK” 140 character outburst. This means that opinion is where the money is to be garnered in football reporting nowadays and simply, the more controversial the article, the more hits, the more advertising revenue you bring in.
great,great writing again absolutely tuned in to liverpool fans way of thinking journalists are like mushrooms keep them in the dark and feed them shit
superb article,i think by far the sky journalists are the worst.the questions they ask before and after the game are beyond belief most of the time…clueless
Really enjoyed that piece. There is a huge amount of irony in the fact that the press are complaining because of some misguided belief that they’re representing the supporters while we’re tuning in to watch Kenny and enjoying what he says.
Absolutely spot on.
Sky interviewers long winded questions to foreign managers have me squirming too, how the fuck are they supposed to understand what they are being asked?
Also, a Manc on a Liverpool website. What a novelty.
Great read – I hardly ever respond to message boards but I had to give my thumbs up here! It’s the same when media invade celebs’ privacy saying ‘we (the people)’ have a right to know, p-lease!!!!! It’s pathetic. Really good point about the contrast in Mourinho and Dalglish’s styles despite both aiming for the same goal. First time here, loved the article and i’ll be bookmarking this going forward.
@Gorodish… yes some of the ‘fans’ are terrible on the official site. Always calling for Carra’s head when he makes a mistake, Carroll’s head, etc, etc. I agree somewhat but if you look at any public message board/forum it always spins out of control.
Big two weeks coming up for pool, we screwed up the last big test of Stoke and Tottenham, hopefully we come through with some points against Everton and Man United. 6 points too much too ask, United are picking up injuries….. :)
To be fare, we’re all shit scared of asking questions at melwood now, we just want some cliches and our backs slapped