People in football are often very diplomatic in interviews.
They’re very complimentary, very safe, and they try their best not to step on anybody’s toes with what they say.
I spoke to Edwin van der Sar recently, and he wouldn’t even name the best player he’d ever played with to avoid offending the others!
It was nice of him, but honestly, it’s the ones who aren’t like that that make the best interviews for us journalists – your Mourinhos, Ferdinands, Maradonas, etc. Spoke to John Barnes a couple months ago, and he didn’t mind saying what was wrong with his former club Liverpool at all.
Mourinho’s first press conference as Chelsea manager is already the stuff of legends. “Maybe I am a special one,” he proclaimed with that now trademark upturned nose.
And he was. So why not say it as it is?
Now Andre Villas-Boas, the new Chelsea manager, has been touted as Mourinho’s Mini-Me but at his press conference in Malaysia just a couple hours ago, it became immediately apparent that you won’t be getting any of those outrageous Mourinho-isms with this guy.
It’s not a bad thing. It’ll just be less fun for the press.
Naturally, journalists will sniff for an outrageous quote with some probing questions, trying to get something out of the ordinary. It’s their job.
Some interviewees will be more than glad to oblige, while others prefer to take the sting out of those questions by giving some off-the-mill response.
From what I heard at that press conference, Villas-Boas is definitely in the latter category.
He downright refused to answer a question about Luka Modric, gave the most non-committal, convoluted answer you could imagine when I asked whether he’d be buying British players like Dalglish and Ferguson have, and really didn’t make any of the outrageous statements that were Mourinho’s bread and butter.
Again, it’s not a bad thing. The point is, he’s not like the “Secial One” at all.
Though he owes much of his football education to the Special One, “AVB” – as some fans now refer to him as – seems a completely different manager to Mourinho.
He seems grounded where Mourinho was arrogant, gracious where Mourinho was grating, and sensible where Mourinho would prefer to be outrageous.
He was bright, down-to-earth (he smiled and responded directly to each journalist who asked a question) and yet very confident. Mourinho, on the other hand, was often summed up in just one word – brash.
While Mourinho operated on extremes, AVB seems much more balanced. Perhaps he’ll provide that stability that Chelsea need now after Ancelotti’s ridiculous sacking.
But then again, what do I know? I’ve only seen a bunch of his interviews on TV and attended one press conference. Chelsea fans will just have to wait and see how things go when the season kicks off.