Last on MOTD: Brief encounter

TELEVISION interviews with Everton manager David Moyes are always a fascinating watch – as much for the demands they make on his interrogator as for his answers.

Whenever I’ve seen Moyes do a TV post-match interview, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give an answer lasting much more than 15 seconds. His thoughts will be worth listening to, because the Everton boss always tells it as he sees it, but he doesn’t waste words.

So if you’re the chap or chappess despatched to speak to Moyes post-match in front of one of those boards festooned with ads for exotic lager or betting companies, you need to go in armed with a lot of questions if the interview is to outlast the average sprint relay.

Sometimes, if Moyes thinks he has been asked a particularly daft question, the answer will be much shorter than 15 seconds. When his team were knocked out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon last month, an intrepid reporter from Five (the channel, not the erstwhile boyband) quizzed him about lifting his players for the following Sunday’s league game at Tottenham.

“Do I look like I’m thinking about the Tottenham game just now?” was the Moyes reply. It was an honest response, but I didn’t envy the poor reporter left scrambling to think of a follow-up question. The interview ended pretty quickly after that.

(Incidentally, this reminds me of my favourite brief post-match interview, when Brian Horton was asked by a reporter from the Stoke Sentinel for a few words after Port Vale had lost a crucial First Division match at Tranmere, a defeat which effectively relegated them. Horton turned to the reporter and said: “Derek, I’m gutted. That’s my quote.” And then walked off. The Sentinel man led his report with that quote the next day, and Vale’s fans later produced a fanzine called Derek, I’m gutted.)

The one benefit of brief answers in TV post-match interviews is that it makes them very easy to edit. If, say, you need to chop a manager’s post-match reaction down to 15 seconds because it’s the final game on Match of the Day, you don’t really want to be wading through some interminable waffle-a-thon and trying to pick out a pause for breath as a cut-off point.

And while I don’t want to name any names, there are football managers out there who would make excellent contestants on Just A Minute, if only the restrictions on repetition and deviation were removed.

Last night’s final match: Wolves 0 Everton 0
Commentator: Alistair Mann

The BBC Sport website always carries the full version of an MOTD post-match interview. And it looks as though Alistair Mann did a more-than-decent job with Moyes after Everton’s goalless draw at Molineux, managing to eke the interview out to two minutes by asking seven questions, while resisting the urge to throw any silly ones in there.

(Oh sure, you might think it would be funny to ask Moyes to name his favourite type of sandwich, or if he’s a fan of Glee, or his thoughts on The Bill being cancelled. Well, there are certain managers you probably could get away with putting those questions to, but I’m pretty sure Moyes isn’t one of them. He’s got a stare that could throw Jeremy Paxman off his stride.)

Due to time pressures, only the first of Mann’s seven questions were used (“David, is your over-riding emotion one of disappointment today?”), thus ensuring the interview was cut down to a manageable 15 seconds.

(Moyes’ answer, by the way, was: “Yeah, because I thought we had a chance of taking all three points. I thought we deserved it for our attempts at goal. But you don’t get anything if you don’t score and we didn’t do that today.”)

Seven questions was pretty good, considering that there were far fewer talking points than there had been when Everton won at Manchester City on Wednesday night. No scrap with an opposing manager on the touchline, no stand-up rows in the directors’ box. Then again, Moyes has no problem with Wolves, whereas his criticisms of City over their pursuit of Joleon Lescott last summer have been well-publicised.

Moyes was right to suggest that Everton should have won, though. Louis Saha hit the bar in the first half, while Leon Osman and Dan Gosling both went close towards the end.

“We had to weather a fair old storm from Everton, who I think are a top-four team,” said Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.

Well, they’re not in the Premier League’s top four, thanks largely to an awful start to the campaign. However, they have been there or thereabouts in the Gubbometer title race all season. And thanks to a second successive appearance at the tail end of MOTD, Everton lead the Gubbometer for the first time this season.

I’ve no intention of asking Moyes for his opinion on that, though.

Gubbometer

1. Everton: 7 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
2. Stoke: 7 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
3. Blackburn: 6 (GD: 1. 2L: 3.)
4. West Ham: 6 (GD: 1. 2L: 2.)
5. Portsmouth: 6 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
6. Bolton: 5 (GD: 0. 2L: 7.)
7. Wigan: 5 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
8. Hull: 4 (GD: 0. 2L: 6.)
9. Aston Villa: 4 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
10. Wolves: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 7.)
11. Fulham: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 5.)
12. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 3.)
13. Birmingham: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 7.)
14. Burnley: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 6.)
15. Tottenham: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
16. Arsenal: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17. Liverpool: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
18. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 7.)
19. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
20. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
21. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)

GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Last night’s penultimate match was: Tottenham 2 Portsmouth 0.)

(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)

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