Man City give another example of how club created content can enrich the fan experience

There’s a ritual to watching sport. If you’re going to a game, you’ll have your own one beforehand. But even if you’re watching on TV there’s a routine: you watch the build-up, you laugh and scoff at the pundits, half-time is for making a cup of tea – or something stronger, depending on the score – and then there’s the final whistle. But it doesn’t end there, because you have to watch the managers speak.

That’s the part which usually seems to disappoint. Rarely will you get a manager say anything interesting, especially in Premier League football where the slightest bit of negativity is pounced upon, and any anger or jibe could cost tens of thousands of pounds in fines. The thoughts of a manager after a game are surely some of the most interesting you could hope to hear, but all we usually get are guarded answers and familiar cliches – and it’s not the fault of the managers either, a situation has been created where they can’t really speak their minds in full.

Yet when you watch interviews with football managers conducted by club channels, they can often be more revealing and candid.

One of the prickliest managers in the Premier League can be Pep Guardiola. He’s used to managing big clubs with a big media following, and that means he’s used to being poked and prodded, so it’s no surprise that he’d be keen to keep the chat to a minimum when dealing with the press. There’s so much scope for negativity as well as giving too much away to opponents listening in to want to talk for hours on end.

But in a recent interview with Man City’s official website, he cut a much more casual and relaxed figure. The full interview is embedded below.

Perhaps it had to do with the fact he found himself in the much more salubrious surroundings of Abu Dhabi, rather than the gloomier surrounds of east Manchester as he endured his first north west winter – where both results and temperatures were far from hot.

But it might also have had something to do with the friendly face sitting across the table from him. It makes sense that a manager would be more amenable to discussion when he’s talking to friend and not foe.

Of course, the media should never really be thought of as a ‘foe’, just as much as it shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘friend’ either. Journalists are present at press conferences to report on what’s happening and their job is to ask questions that actually matter. Leaders need to be held to account, and that goes right from the political leaders of our countries to the owner of the corner shop down the road – if something is failing, the management should answer the tough questions.

But an adversarial type of questioning usually leads to friend and foe mentalities.

What is jarring, though, is that the body language is so different. Guardiola is so relaxed, smiling and willing to expand on his answers. He’s comfortable: talking about basketball and golf, the weather and development of young footballers.

Ok, so they’re talking in broad concepts, and perhaps City fans will also be interested in hearing their manager’s take on why their team lost their last game or what the team did right in their latest victory.

But there’s no doubting that it makes for a better insight into the man and his thoughts. And just because he wasn’t asked a hard question about his team’s weaknesses surely doesn’t make it any less valuable.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 214 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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