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Is It Time To Do Away With Post-Match Interviews In Soccer?

In light of Jose Mourinho’s latest meltdown in front of the cameras, maybe it’s time for us to admit that post-match interviews are a waste of everyone’s time.

by Will Magee
Feb 3 2017, 5:07pm

Screengrab via the BBC

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.

With his track record of surly behaviour and snarky encounters with the press, we probably shouldn't be surprised when Jose Mourinho storms out of a post-match interview these days. Nonetheless, watching him being needlessly rude to a fellow journalist appeals somehow to our baser instincts, a bit like when Jeremy Kyle pops up on the box and we linger for a few moments before switching over, feeling that terrible rush of adrenaline as the confrontation ramps up a notch, indulging in the sweet, sweet tension as our veins pulse to the rhythm of the conflict on display.

That was exactly how we felt when, immediately after Manchester United's goalless draw with Hull this week, Mourinho angrily cut short his interview with the BBC's Martin Fisher. For the sake of the Jeremy Kyle analogy, Jose Mourinho was the censorious chat show host, Fisher the bewildered stooge being forced to take an awkward public paternity test. He stood accused of failing to show due care to his journalistic offspring, namely the highly inoffensive question he had just asked about a couple of contentious refereeing decisions. Mourinho felt that the answer was so obvious that he had no choice but to march off in a massive sulk.

To put it in the simplest possible terms: Mourinho became extremely frustrated with Martin Fisher for asking an innocuous and reasonable question, no doubt because he was still annoyed about his team suffering an adverse result. This is not the first time Mourinho has lost his head in the surroundings of the post-match interview room, nor is he the first manager to do so this season. Pep Guardiola was comically surly in an interview with Sky Sports' Rob Palmer earlier in the campaign, while Arsene Wenger has been pulling this shit for years. Football managers clearly aren't keen on the post-match interview as a journalistic medium, and perhaps it's time to ask the question: is anyone else?

When it comes to the managers themselves, it's not hard to see why the post-match chat is the cause of such exasperation. Even after a good result, they have only just left the sidelines and, as such, they have had little time to analyse key incidents or gather their thoughts on the game as a whole. Accordingly, they usually rely on well-rehearsed platitudes, giving little insight to the interviewer and so making the whole exercise feel largely arbitrary. How often do managers say something genuinely interesting or informative in a post-match interview? The majority of the time, their contribution is to roll out a selection of cliches and truisms before going on their way with little gained or learned.

On the other hand, when the match hasn't gone a manager's way, he is understandably irritated and in no mood to face an interviewer immediately. He is professionally obliged to do so, however, and this often leads to a concise few minutes of terse replies, snark and sarcasm, which is in fairness a natural reaction to having a microphone shoved in one's face after a shite day at work. Mourinho's latest post-match meltdown might have produced a shareable eight-second video clip, but once again the interview has produced practically zero insight. When one realises that managers give little away straight after a game whether they are in a receptive mood or not, it's hard not to feel that the post-match interview is a waste of their time, and ours.

With post-match interviews fundamentally ill-timed when it comes to interacting with managers, the journalists presiding over them are left with one of the most thankless tasks in the game. Considering that, as with Martin Fisher, their lines of questioning are fairly uncontroversial relative to those asked in press conferences and interviews, the spontaneous rage they so often encounter is disproportionate to their actual role. It must be fairly demoralising to be given a brief window of access to a manager, only to receive glib responses and perhaps even a brusque and resentful rebuff. With most headline material coming from press conferences anyway, it's not like the journalists involved are getting many exclusives, while they could almost certainly be better deployed and less exposed to rancour elsewhere.

If post-match interviews are so often a chore for managers and journalists alike, the final straw should be the fact that they provide so little of worth for fans. Barring the occasional storm out or an ill-considered outburst, they add little to the game in terms of entertainment, which in lieu of insight would be pretty much the only other feasible reason to carry them on. As far as television viewers are concerned, post-match interviews are the boring bit which gets fast forwarded on Match of the Day – the part of Super Sunday which nobody sees because everyone is standing outside the pub having a fag at that point. They add practically nothing to the experience of watching a football match, and are quickly superseded by the press conferences, articles and column inches which come next.

Why, then, do we not do away with post-match interviews at the earliest convenient opportunity? They are a nuisance for managers, a headache for journalists and inspire no particular affection from fans. For a clue as to why they won't be done away with anytime soon, however, one needs only look to the temporary backdrop of the interviews. There, emblazoned on the cardboard backgrounds, are logos, labels, brands, trademarks and all the familiar hallmarks of marketing revenue. Much like all the worst things in football, the tedious rigmarole of the post-match interview is played out for the sake of advertisers, regardless of the medium being unfit for purpose and benefitting hardly anyone else.

@W_F_Magee