Straight talking from players post-match is all fans and the media want - Johnny Cantor
I've mentioned before in these inches about my staple injection of Trevor Nelson and Craig Charles in the darkness towards the end of a long journey home and it still does the trick after digesting the day's action on the radio.
Last weekend was different though as I was heading back along the M4 after a lunchtime kick-off in Cardiff. After computing all the results from the Premier League down to the non-league my senses were overloaded in the car by the Match of the Day interview with Southampton striker Charlie Austin.
The former Poole Town forward was blasting the decisions from the referee and felt Saints had been denied valuable points after his goal was disallowed. Now he didn’t mention the penalty that should have probably been given to Watford but for me it was refreshing to hear the passion.
Referees are under huge pressure and as Austin pointed out the introduction of VAR can’t come quick enough to the Premier League but it was refreshing to hear Austin’s protests rather than the sanitised version that we often get. Press officers and communications executives have a job to do and usually get a briefing from the manager as to which player they want or don’t want to face the camera lens, what they want their players to comment on and what they don’t want them to elaborate on.
There is also of course a way of doing things and I’m not one for criticising people in challenging roles but it is nice to hear something different.
Players, managers and executives are inevitably trained in how to answer certain questions but as long as it is not personal I think it can be acceptable. Austin himself tweeted ‘Spoken from the heart after today’s game, that’s what the interview are for not to sit on the fence yes we all make mistakes but today was a costly one and @SouthamptonFC should of won the game’.
A few days on and some wag on social media had already used Austin’s rant and distinctive accent to edit with a certain song from Blur. Quite clever, and could be taken the wrong way but credit to him he then tweeted #Parklife. Nicely done.
We often take sport and football very seriously and it is means a lot to supporters. It is also big business now. However, it should also be fun.
Austin spoke from the heart but also took the video in good humour. Once again I have written in this column about the intensity of the post-match flash interview but on this occasion I don’t think it crossed the line. Straight taking is all the media and the fans want.
There is a clamour from some parts for referees to face questions too. That is probably a discussion for another day but if VAR is introduced sooner or later that may take away the need for them to take questions or make statements.
It won’t solve all the issues as incidents still have to be interpreted by officials but hopefully it means most of the decisions will be right, and hopefully the passion will remain.