Stupid interview questions leave me sick as a parrot

I feel that, at 27-years-old, I am too young to be a fully paid up member of the Grumpy Old Man society but sadly I often find myself shouting obscenities at the TV or radio when I hear sports journalists firing inane, random and completely pointless questions at the country’s sporting stars.

One recent incident springs to mind when, following Rangers’ victory against Hearts in the League Cup semi-final, captain Barry Ferguson was asked at the end of the interview whether he would prefer to play Dundee United or Aberdeen in the final.

Amid my wild-eyed rant at the TV I was just able to make out Bazza’s response along the lines of: “We don’t care who we play in the final. The most important thing is that we are there.”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who could have predicted Ferguson’s asnwer before he had even uttered his first syllable which begs the question, why on earth was he asked it in the first place? The BBC journalist in question – unfortunately I can’t remember who it was – should have had an array of other more relevant questions to ask and, if he didn’t, should have done the decent thing and ended the interview early rather than waste precious seconds of both Ferguson’s and the viewers lives by blurting out the first pointless question that came into his head.

But amid the litany of stupid questions asked in post and pre match interviews, there are thankfully a few cracking answers which show the interviewer up for their ineptitude and lack of planning.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan is well renowned for his quips and I have listed some of his best below.

The England football team also had great fun with the media during a World Cup campaign (I think it was in 1998) where the players had to mention as many song titles in interviews as possible without arousing suspicion. If anyone can get a hold of the clips anywhere it is quality viewing. I can’t find them anywhere.

But the all-time winner must go to Walter Smith when, during his first spell in charge at Rangers, he let rip at broadcaster Chick Young after taking offence at his line of questioning.

Thanks go to PR man and former crime journalist extraordinaire Stephen Rafferty who, on his blog (here) at Sure PR, reminded me of the clip. (the audio is slightly behind the visuals but you get the picture!)

If anyone has any other examples of great interview answers from sporting stars then please post them below.

Gordon Strachan quips:

1. Reporter: “Gordon, can we have a quick word please?” Strachan: “Velocity” [walks off]

2. Reporter: Can I ask you about Augustin Delgado [an underperforming player Strachan had purchased for Southampton] Strachan: I’ve got more important things to think about. I’ve got a yogurt to finish by today, the expiry date is today. That can be my priority rather than Augustin Delgado.

3. Reporter: Welcome to Southampton Football Club. Do you think you are the right man to turn things around? Strachan: No. I was asked if I thought I was the right man for the job and I said, “No, I think they should have got George Graham because I’m useless.”

4. Reporter: Gordon, you must be delighted with that result? Strachan: You’re spot on! You can read me like a book.

5. Reporter: This might sound like a daft question, but you’ll be happy to get your first win under your belt, won’t you? Strachan: You’re right. It is a daft question. I’m not even going to bother answering that one. It is a daft question, you’re spot on there.

6. Reporter: Bang, there goes your unbeaten run. Can you take it? Strachan: No, I’m just going to crumble like a wreck. I’ll go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump off a bridge. Umm, I think I can take it, yeah.

7. On Wayne Rooney : It’s an incredible rise to stardom, at 17 you’re more likely to get a call from Michael Jackson than Sven Goran Eriksson.

8. Reporter: Gordon, Do you think James Beattie [one of Strachan’s players] deserves to be in the England squad? Strachan: I dont care, I’m Scottish

9. Reporter: You don’t take losing lightly, do you Gordon? Strachan: I don’t take stupid comments lightly either.

10. Reporter: So, Gordon, in what areas do you think Middlesbrough were better than you today? Strachan: What areas? Mainly that big green one out there….

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No tears shed for Cousin departure

The breaking news that Rangers are about to lose their star striker and top scorer, Daniel Cousin, to Fulham should have me burying my head in my hands – but to be honest I believe this is a good bit of business for Rangers.

Walter Smith seems genuinely reluctant to let Cousin go but the reported £3m fee would represent a return of around £2m in just six months on a striker who hasn’t really won a place in the hearts of the Rangers faithful.

For the most part, he has seemed content to swan around Ibrox with a general malaise and pop up every now and then with the odd commanding performance and a goal here and there.

Cousin, who signed from Lens in the summer, did have that one outstanding game in Lyon where Rangers shocked the French champions by winning 3-0. That was no mean feat for Cousin and Rangers and should not be overlooked but I don’t think there can be any doubt that Smith brought Cousin in as a short-term stop gap and has never intended building a team around the towering hitman.

Therefore, the £2m profit should be looked upon as a nice return and Smith should wave goodbye to Cousin without a shred of regret. There are better players out there who Rangers should be looking to build a team around for years to come.

I also hope the disappointment of losing his place to Cousin will have shocked Kris Boyd into pulling his socks up a bit. There’s no more dangerous striker in Scotland when he is on form.

I would love it, absolutely love it if they beat them….

There’s not many things that surprise me in the world of football these days, probably because my amazement threshold has been stretched to its limit in recent years.

But the announcement that “Geordie Messiah” Kevin Keegan is returning to manage Newcastle United was one that stopped me in my tracks. An undoubted marmalade dropper in sporting news if ever I heard one. At least it would have been if it hadn’t broken late afternoon.

The Guardian’s ‘The Fiver’ column best summed up the appointment under the banner: “Sensational and Presposterous Breaking News…”

Keegan is the Toon’s most successful manager and steered them from second division obscurity to twice running Manchester United to the wire for the Premiership title. He is revered as a God on Tyneside and will forever hold a place dear in the hearts of the Geordie faithful.

For the past few years Keegan has also been running his “Soccer Circus” which, while being a cheap and easy gag, ought to stand him in good stead for the task ahead at St James’ Park.

They say you should never return to the scene of your previous triumphs but Walter Smith is currently proving that to be false while Graham Taylor and Harry Redknapp have also proven to be successful second time round at Watford and Portsmouth.

I for one am very much looking forward to seeing Newcastle once Keegan has got his hands on them and ripped up the defensive manual. He will also bring some much needed charisma to the post-match interviews. Who could ever forget his foaming at the mouth “I would love it” rant at Sir Alex Ferguson during their epic title battle in the 1995/96 season.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I can’t see Newcastle mounting a similar challenge under Keegan a second time around. Football is much more sophisticated than when Keegan was last involved and new-fangled inventions called “tactics” and “defence” play a much bigger role than the up-and-at-em days of King Kev’s reign.

However, there is no doubt that if he delivers the attacking brand of football the fans crave they will love him for it and although it is unlikely to stand the rigours of an entire season, he will stand a good chance of bagging their first major trophy since 1969 in one of the cup competitions.

Regardless of what happens, there are exciting times on the horizon at St James and I, for one, would love it, absolutely love it if the Great Permed one could deliver once again for the Toon.

Scotland shortlist fails to inspire

So Billy Davies has ruled himself out of the running for the Scotland manager’s job. Please excuse me for not reaching for the Night Nurse to catch up on any lost sleep.

Davies has proved himself to be astute at taking flagging Championship sides and challenging for promotion but no more than that. I have no doubt he is a great coach but an effective man-manager or statesmanlike figure he certainly is not. At least not yet. My good friend Alan Pattullo of the Scotsman has said it here much better than I can. Some have called this a character assassination but in my view this is a frank assessment of Davies’ career to date. Well done for telling it like it is Alan.

So, according to reports it is now down to Tommy Burns, Graeme Souness, Mark McGhee or George Burley. I have to say that none of them inspire a great deal of confidence in carrying on Walter Smith and Alex McLeish’s good work. To perform against teams like France, Italy and Holland, a coach should really have some experience of taking his side into battle against some top teams – and for me that means having managed a team in European competition or in the English Premiership.

Burley performed miracles with Hearts before he was ousted by ‘hand’s on’ owner Vladimir Romanov and he is currently doing well under difficult circumstances at Southampton. However, he has no European experience and limited time managing in the top-flight.

I also very much like the work McGhee is doing at Motherwell as he has not only got them winning but playing some great attacking football in the process. However, again he has no European experience in management and prior to Motherwell can count Bristol City, Leicester and Wolves as previous clubs.

Souness is a recipe for dressing room disharmony and, although hugely experienced at a number of top-flight clubs, it is almost inevitable that his arrogance and man-management style would disrupt the atmosphere within the squad.

I can’t help but think that Burns’ name is only in the frame because of a lack of other viable candidates and by way of apology for being overlooked when McLeish was appointed. His recent ‘managerial experience’ amounts to being No2 during Berti Vogts’ disastrous reign as Scotland boss and coaching the youth teams at Celtic Park.

I struggle to remember much about his reign as Celtic manager in the 1990’s and although I believe his teams’ were lauded for playing some decent football I think I am right in saying that it was not Celtic’s most successful period in their history.

The SFA seem determined to go down the Scottish route for their next boss and to that end I am surprised that no-one has mentioned the two most successful Scots in coaching positions in the Premiership (excluding, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson).

Steve Clarke at Chelsea and Alex Miller at Liverpool have been involved with their respective clubs through a number of highly successful campaigns. Miller has worked alongside Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez during UEFA Cup and Champions League triumphs while Clarke has gleaned considerable continental knowledge from Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri.

I particularly like the thought of Clarke as boss as there have been some extremely positive noises coming from Stamford Bridge about his involvement in Chelsea’s success. I heard a story from someone (I believe it was Andy Townsend on TalkSport although I could be mistaken) talking about a recent abject first-half showing from Chelsea.

The team apparently performed much better after half-time following a rousing team talk. The man who delivered this team talk: manager Avram Grant? No. Former Ajax manager and Grant’s esteemed assistant Henk Ten Caat? No. It was Steve Clarke.

Having so much respect in a dressing room full of multi-millionaires can surely only stand him in good stead for a top position elsewhere and I see no reason why it couldn’t be Scotland.

Of course, the SFA have had their fingers burnt after their last two managers were poached and they will be in no hurry to lose another one should they prove successful. In that sense, Clarke’s growing reputation and age would probably count against him should the blazers at the SFA decide he was worth a look.

Miller, then, would seem a reasonable name to throw into the hat. He is at an age when the ‘part-time’ nature of international management may be appealing and he may be keen to be his own man again after years of being in the shadow of successful managers. He is also less likely to be poached should he continue the upturn in fortunes for the national team.

People may point to his time at Hibs and Aberdeen where he was not considered to be an exponent of the beautiful game and was happy to win ugly. But at Hibs he duly delivered and won the League Cup in 1991, reached the final in 1993 and guided the Edinburgh-side to third place in the league in 1995.

It is important the SFA exhaust all the possibilities for appointing a Scottish manager but nobody should be appointed simply because they are Scottish and will take the job. Should none of the above candidates prove suitable then we cannot let our experience with Berti put us off the foreign route again.