The King Of Comedy
Given the events of the last week, the messianic return of Kenny Dalglish should be celebrated. Not for the 3-0 win that his team recorded over Wolves. Nor for any belief that the return of the ‘King’ is a panacea for Liverpool’s ills – such beliefs are misguided. No, his return should be celebrated for his handling of the press and media, and it should be celebrated by all fans.
Daglish’s caustic wit was at its finest this week when he mocked a Sky Sports News reporter, questioning whether it was ok to have a woman present, and then noting the absence of any questions relating to female officials. Though they were the two most amusing moments of his press conference, the most satisfying was his reaction to being asked why he thought there were six managers from Glasgow in the Premier League. “Is that your last question? And you want me to answer your questions?” was accompanied by a look of disbelief, followed by a shrug of the shoulders and a weary response that he had no idea why there were six Glaswegians in the Premier League but at least he had someone to talk to.
His reaction should be applauded and long may such treatment of anodyne and facile journalism continue. Football reporters, journalists, pundits and presenters seem to be on a never ending decline into tedium, asking the most questions lacking in any insight (let’s not even get started on how Andy Townsend is the lead pundit for the Champions League). We’re now used to a reporter thrusting his microphone under the nose of a triumphant manager, to ask “You’ve just won six-nil, Alan. Does it feel good?”. Or “The referee gave that crucial penalty against you for a foul that was two yards outside the box. Are you unhappy with the decision?” What next? “I’ve just slept with your wife, Steve. Do you mind?”
Dalglish is a throwback to a time when managers wouldn’t suffer fools gladly. They didn’t have intensive media training in his day, they simply answered good football questions with good football responses, and woe betide anyone who deviated from that simple brief. In those days, managers like Clough, Atkinson and Graham spoke their minds. In those heady days, it wasn’t uncommon to see such managers as members of the panel for live games, before things got so litigious and carefully scrutinised by the FA.
Ferguson too, was once a master of insight and cutting sarcasm but, alas, has long since turned his media events into a hand selected crowd of fawning journos feeding bland and toady questions, lest they be banned for asking anything remotely tricky. Perhaps, just maybe, Fergie will get that fire in the belly of his press conferences again with the return of his old sparring partner down the M62. Let’s hope it rubs off on a few more managers too because, frankly, things have been a bit dull.