High Press Episode 6:
Episode 6 of High Press covers memorable rants from Premier League managers, players hitting back at the press and takes a look at the candidates in the 2023-24 sack race.
Host Alison Bender is joined by Jay Harris, Dave Kidd and Jason Burt to discuss Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez’s iconic ‘FACTS’ rant and much, much more.
Nathan Jones and HAVENT & WATERLOOVILLE
Nathan Jones is the first manager discussed, with Harris saying, ‘The second a manager comes out like that, you just know the writing is on the wall.’
Jones developed a reputation during his short Southampton tenure for fiery press conferences, including claiming his Luton team was one of the best in Europe for xG and aggression.
Burt then remembers when Jones’ Southampton knocked Manchester City out of the League Cup, and the Southampton manager used his press conference to talk about the Havant & Waterlooville manager.
“It’s what we all want, we love Nathan Jones as newspaper men, as broadcasters as well, because he’s great entertainment, great fun. We don’t want bland pitchside interviews for the TV and we don’t want bland quotes,”, said Kidd.
Jose Mourinho was box-office
On the topic of entertaining managers, the quartet reminisced about Jose Mourinho’s first stint at Chelsea, and how his press conferences were often better than the football his side played. Bender even recounted a time when he decided he had four things to say, and repeated the same four things to every broadcaster.
Meeting Sir Alex Ferguson was like meeting royalty
The panel shared stories from being sent to Carrington for Alex Ferguson press conferences. Each were told they had to introduce themselves to Ferguson, and Burt recalls a particularly embarrassing first press conference with Ferguson, which featured the entire press room laughing at Ferguson’s response to his question.
Rafa Benitez FACTS
Moving on to Benitez, Kidd said, “The thing with the ‘fact’ rant’, is it was obviously pre-prepared. It was in a pre-match conference and he’d written it all down. Keegan at least lost it in the heat of the moment!”
Bender, who has worked extensively at Chelsea, talked about how Frank Lampard and John Terry were quick to challenge questions they disagreed with.
Burt responded with an anecdote of Gary Cahill chatting happily with the press, only for Burt and others to be told that Cahill wasn’t happy with the questions.
When players hit back at the press
After agreeing that wouldn’t happen with England now, Kidd added, “The access you get at England now is outstanding. The relationship between the journalists and the players is now better than it has been for generations. That’s largely due to Gareth Southgate’s influence and his media team – they are excellent.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kidd identifies Roy Keane as one of the most outspoken players to interview. “He’d speak very occasionally, but when he did, it was nearly always dynamite.”
David Moyes and protecting managers mental health
The group debated the difficulties for the press when managers are struggling, particularly when they have close relationships. Bender also brought up the impact on the mental health of managers following comments from David Moyes.
The Premier League sack race
The episode wraps up with a look at the number of sackings in the Premier League and managers who could be getting the boot this season.
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