Johnny Cantor: All journalists have had interviewees take exception to a question

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
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I always do my best to encourage, advise and guide anyone who approaches me about a future in the media.

I also aim to be realistic. More and more people want to know the best approach to take, help with a dissertation, talks, tours or just want to ask the question: What is it actually like?

More often than not for me, it is a case of you don’t know until you try. You may not like it but until you try, you just don’t know (if that makes sense!).

Last week, the BBC Sport Twitter feed sent out a link with the title ‘All aspiring journalists look away’. The link was to an honest and insightful piece entitled ‘When post-match interviews go wrong’.

Of course, over the years, we have all had days when things go wrong or interviewees take exception to what we are asking. However, on many occasions when that happens you are asking the right questions, getting to the crux of the matter.

The post-match or ‘flash’ football interview with a manager is often more complex than it may seem. This is certainly reflected in the examples of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola or Louis Van Gaal.

The game has just finished and tensions can be running very high. You might be standing in sub-zero temperatures on a windy touchline in Yorkshire or you could be squeezed into a sweltering room, well cupboard, with your microphone up the nose of a boss from 12 inches or so.

In the article, there are memories from several long-standing staff but in fact rather than look away, I would say to any aspiring Geoff Shreeves or Ian Dennis, don’t look away, study it, in depth. Of course, we never know what to expect in interviews, and in sport in general, and that is the beauty of it.

However, I would say be aware of what can happen. TV, radio and written journalists often take a different stance, have different content to produce and get to speak to managers at different times but it is often the people on the front line who get it in the neck.

Last week, I made the long trip to Huddersfield on a Thursday night, only for the Seagulls to be battered 3-1 by their hosts. Freezing cold, off I popped to speak to the Albion camp. It could have been worse, though. Back in 2009, I made the same trip only for the Seagulls to get beaten 7-1! Albion’s keeper Michel Kuipers was sent off. Graeme Smith came off the bench for his debut, only to be booked before he even faced the penalty! And no he didn’t save it.

All in all, Russell Slade answered my questions honestly when I asked if he was questioning his position and credit to him for that.

There are many more examples of when things get awkward and sometimes people have resorted to quite rude personal comments but I don’t think we should take them to heart. The managers are of course in a very stressful situation and there is an argument to say such interviews so soon after the full-time whistle are not as valuable as the later more considered press conferences.

They are, however, very often a source of entertainment for the viewer or listener. I think they stand amongst a myriad of different aspects in which games, clubs and teams are covered nowadays and we all have a choice as to which we opt for.

Every so often, though, have a thought for the person who you may not be able to see (except for perhaps their hand!), they may just have one of the toughest jobs around.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com

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