PAT NEVIN: CONFERENCE CALL
In this week's column, Chelsea legend Pat Nevin discusses the win on Sunday and media treatment of a news story in the past week…
The win against Norwich was a pretty impressive one considering how things were looking with only 10 minutes to go. First of all Chris Hughton had made some pretty impressive, if very defensive for a home side, tactical decisions in the second half. They defended deep and played on the break in numbers when they finally got the ball. It looked as if it might even pay off but in the end they got just a little carried away.
As they drove forward looking for the winner, the deep defending was forgotten and Chelsea broke twice in quick succession to devastating effect. Let's not however forget two very important points in the midst of all this. First Jose went to a back three to add some domination in the middle of the field, specifically on the left, and he brought on two players who scored the two vital goals. There were good tactics for the most part from Chrissy Hughton, but they didn't quite live up to Jose's when the big calls were needed at the end.
So the Happy One was smiling again, but I can understand if he is not over keen to share his joy with a number of the journalists. Now he and we know that it is all just a game for the most part when managers joust with the media in the pre and post-match conferences. There are however a few rules, some boundaries that both sides feel should be respected. They instinctively know when they are transgressed and when that happens, the breakdowns come between the two.
Of course as a manager you know the 'club in crisis' line will be trotted out at the first given opportunity, it adds to the intrigue as well as the pressure and it invariably makes a good if sometimes faintly ridiculous story this early in the season. It is however considered fair game, the readers are sussed enough to know that it is a merely an attention grabber. What is generally not accepted is to cut a story so blatantly and peddle it so deliberately dishonestly, that anyone with half a brain who saw the original interview would realise it was blatant fakery.
I don't often get angry but this sort of falsehood peddled in editing really gets to me, especially when I know it is being repeated by others in the media who have been conned by the original artifice.
Remember Eden Hazard 'assaulting' a Swansea ball boy? Well I knew then that the broadcaster had buried the angle that showed he only kicked the ball and not the boy. They then repeated those pictures ad nauseam the next day, deliberately failing to show the true picture, a picture they knew they had. What's more they gave out the footage, without the fairest angle, to all the other broadcasters who lapped up the line they were being fed. I thought it was supposed to be about giving the public the truth, not just as big a story as you can manufacture, true or not.
Well it happened yet again to Chelsea last week, when Jose Mourinho 'stormed' out of the pre-match presser before the Steaua game. If you watched the footage repeatedly shown on the rolling news you would have understandably thought he was furious with the question (he was undoubtedly annoyed) and stormed out of the press conference prematurely in a big huff, refusing to answer any more searching questions from the assembled astonished journos.
Well if that is what you thought you saw, try watching the fuller and more honest clip below. In it Jose clearly checks beforehand that it is the last question, so it is clear he didn't storm away before his time, he gave a full, if biting reaction, and it is clear that all present knew that the time was up and Frank was prepared for the next grilling.
Now the next day I didn't read every newspaper, I didn't hear every radio broadcast or watch every TV transmission, but each of those I did catch peddled the line that he stormed out mid conference and made no mention of the fact that he had already made it clear this was to be the last question. Personally I think that is, or at least should be, beneath the dignity of the press. To dress up a story so blatantly and in such and unfairly biased way, when you know the real truth is to do a disservice to a fine profession.
Before anyone gets carried away thinking that I am just seeing things purely through blue-tinted spectacles, I suspect Davie Moyes was similarly treated by many press people over part of the Rooney story at the start of the season. Did he really mean that Wayne was only a second choice striker as was widely reported, or was he actually saying that Wayne was vital and could play in many positions other than centre-forward?
Cast your minds back even further to when Andy Murray was generally hated by a large section of the English public because he said that he would support anyone playing against England at football. Yes he said it, but as every single journalist there knew fine well, his tongue was firmly in his cheek. It was a bit of banter with Tim Henman who had been winding Andy up about Scotland's inadequacy at international level football. Henman has always backed this up, but that is not how the story was told and he went through years of abuse for that deliberate, mischievous misinterpretation of his meaning.
There will be mistakes in journalism, yours truly will not be correct in every line, there may even be errors in this piece and there will have been in the past articles, but I promise one thing. It will never have been deliberate and it will never be planned to conceal the truth just to get at someone for the sake of a grubby headline. Good journalists do, I happen to know, feel the same way as I do on this subject.
So why am I ranting on about this now anyway? It is just that just too many people have recently being complaining to me about players and managers being so remote from the press, particularly in comparison with other European countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany.
I never said no to an interview, a call from the press throughout my entire career and never wanted to be paid for it either I hasten to add. It should be part of the deal as far as I am concerned, but I can see the football folks' argument very clearly. It is the stories like those above and not the graphic ones outing players when they behave badly that are the reason why there will never be a huge amount of trust from the football side. Why should they take the chance? As the proverb says, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!
Last week's quiz asked who was the first Chelsea player ever to score against Steaua Bucharest? It was of course Juan Mata in the first leg of the Europa League game last season. Many correct answers, but the lucky winner randomly chosen was Kononchuk Alexandre from Ukraine.
This week's quiz is an old favourite that needs a bit of guessing. How many goals will Chelsea players score in full internationals for their countries before next Tuesday? For clarity that does not include players out on loan. Answers as ever to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and one lucky winner will get a DVD of last season signed by one of the players.