Wednesday 20 February 2019

Media spotlight – six of the best football press conferences

Jose Mourinho is not the only manager who can leave a lasting impression on a room of journalists.

Jose Mourinho delivered an unusual press conference on Monday (Martin Rickett/PA)
Jose Mourinho delivered an unusual press conference on Monday (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Jose Mourinho walked out of his press conference following Manchester United’s 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham on Monday night.

The United boss is under intense scrutiny following a poor start to the season but defended his team and his own record, reminding the media he has won three Premier League trophies in his career and asking for “respect, respect, respect”.

He then stood up and walked out while still making his point in what was a bizarre encounter and here, Press Association Sport looks at six more memorable press conferences from recent years.

Christian Gross – Ticket to Ride

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Christian Gross lasted less than a year as Tottenham boss (David Jones/PA)

Appointed as Tottenham’s new manager in November 1997, Zurich-born Gross was largely unheard of in England.

The former Grasshoppers boss soon changed that as he arrived late at this press conference unveiling, brandishing his tube ticket from Heathrow Airport.

“Hopefully it’ll be the ticket of my dreams,” he said. “I came on public transport because I wanted to experience how the fans feel. I wanted to show I am one of them.”

Hopefully Gross purchased a return as his unsuccessful stint at White Hart Lane culminated in the sack after 10 months in charge.

Jose Mourinho – The Special One

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Mourinho spoke with confidence at his Chelsea unveiling in 2004. (Andrew Parsons/PA)

Mourinho arrived at Chelsea in 2004 to much fanfare after lifting the Champions League with unfancied Porto just weeks earlier.

The Portuguese was set to take the Premier League by storm and he started in a manner befitting his aura.

“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one,” he said – coining a moniker that would remain with him and be paraphrased by plenty of his contemporaries.

Joe Kinnear – Explicit Content

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Joe Kinnear had an uneasy relationship with the press during his spell as Newcastle manager (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Kinnear had not managed in the top-flight in nine years when he was appointed as Newcastle’s interim manager in 2008 following the departure of Kevin Keegan.

The former Wimbledon boss certainly did not feel the need to get the media on side, launching an expletive-ridden tirade at a number of journalists during an early press conference as he took exception to a story.

Kinnear swore over 70 times during the media briefing, which was not caught on camera but on a voice recorder, and told reporters they could “write what they like” as a result.

Rafael Benitez – Fact-finding

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Rafael Benitez had plenty to say about Sir Alex Ferguson as the Liverpool boss gave a memorable press conference (Dave Thompson/PA)

Liverpool were challenging fierce rivals Manchester United for the Premier League title during the 2008/09 season.

Benitez, however, took exception to some comments from Sir Alex Ferguson suggesting Liverpool would choke after taking top spot.

He used a press conference to state a list of ‘facts’ which proved the United boss received preferential treatment from the Football Association – “He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things,” Benitez said.

United would turn the table and win the league, with Ferguson’s response suggesting his counterpart was “angry” and “disturbed”.

Nigel Pearson – Bird is the Word

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Pearson kept Leicester in the Premier League following a superb end to the 2014/15 season (Lynne Cameron/PA)

The Leicester boss was in the process of guiding the Foxes to a remarkable Premier League survival when he took exception to a question following a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea.

He responded by claiming the reporter must have had his “head in the clouds” before deciding he was, in fact, an “ostrich” with his head in the sand.

Pearson then went on to tell the journalist he was not flexible enough to put his head in the sand and labelled him “daft” – it did not stop Leicester staying up and going on to win the league the following season – albeit with Pearson not at the helm.

Louis van Gaal – Mike Drop

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Chris Smalling (left) seemed to be a hard name for Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal to remember (Nick Potts/PA)

The Dutchman lifted an FA Cup during his time at Manchester United but it van Gaal’s press conferences which were often the highlights of his tenure – especially for the media.

Not only did he give a rendition of “Louis van Gaal’s army” but he also forgot the name of defender Chris Smalling, calling the England international “Mike” – even more embarrassing as the player was sat at the top table alongside his manager at the time.

He would later repeat the faux pas in a Champions League briefing, praising the performance of “Michael Smalling”, with the media room filled with stifled giggling.

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