WHEN PRESSERS GO WRONG
Blowing your top in front of the gathered press might not seem like the best idea, though that hasn't stopped many, many managers (and owners) from doing it...
the wild-eyed boss announced: “I don’t pick the general’s government ministers, and so he doesn’t pick my forward line.” The combustible Saldanha was fired shortly afterwards, and new coach Mario Zagallo didn’t need much convincing to include Dario (who was benched the the whole time) in ‘his’ final 22. Not that it mattered much anyway.
Arguably, the most shocking press conference took place in January 1995, when a tearful Paul Merson confessed to his alcohol, gambling and cocaine addictions. The infamous revelation was the first evidence in the Premier League era that massively-monied football stars were struggling to keep their personal lives in order away from the pitch.
The element of surprise is often essential to a memorable presser. Manchester United forward Eric Cantona later revealed that midway through his famous “seagulls” and “trawlers” speech to an expectant room of reporters at Croydon’s Jury’s Inn Hotel – in the aftermath of his kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmonds in February 1995 – he had a brief sip of water not to help lubricate his throat, but to stop himself from laughing.
These days, major signings are announced directly to fans via social media, so by the time new arrivals are introduced to the press there is very little scope for surprise – but that hasn’t always been the case. There were audible gasps of shock from those present when, during a specially convened conference in 1980, two-time Ballon d’or winner Kevin Keegan was revealed as the new Southampton recruit. A clutch of London-based journalists were left kicking themselves in June 2001 after deciding that they’d all dodge the (apparently) low-key arrival of Ipswich goalkeeper Richard Wright at Arsenal’s training ground, when none other than Tottenham skipper Sol Campbell emerged from behind a curtain to be unveiled as Arsene Wenger’s latest signing. A bunch of newspaper editors lambasted their men for missing out on one of the decade’s greatest transfer scoops.
For pure mayhem though, Pele’s arrival as a New York Cosmos player in June 1975 takes some beating. Outside New York’s famous 21 Club, 51st and 52nd Street, plus Fifth Avenue, were scenes of complete pandemonium. The Samba star himself was two hours late as he could not get through the crowds, and two rival photographers had a fist fight as they battled to get a picture of the Brazilian in the famous Hunt Room – buffalo skulls and all - smashing up a glass table as they scrapped. “Absolute chaos – more photographers than I’d ever seen in my life,” said Cosmos general manager Clive Toye. “The most bizarre thing ever.”
VITOR GETS VICIOUS
Things were going swimmingly for Vitor Pereira at Saudi side Al-ahli, until the former Porto manager decided to criticise one of his players in front of journalists. It prompted a swift on-mic interjection from the club’s press officer, insisting he shouldn’t criticise individuals in public. But Pereira then lost it. “It’s the first time in my life someone has told me what I can say,” he cried, before storming out of the press room.
THE RETURN OF J‘F’K
Subtle may not be a word that features very highly in Joe Kinnear’s vocabulary – but c*** evidently is. The ex-wimbledon and Luton boss singled out Daily Mirror writer Simon Bird for some very choice words in his opening presser following his surprise appointment at Newcastle United in 2008. “Which one of you is Simon Bird? You’re a c***,” Kinnear said bluntly, before embarking on a 10-minute expletive-riddled tirade at a host of shocked journalists. No prizes for guessing what the ‘F’ stands for…
GOD FORGIVES, JESUS DOES NOT
Atletico Madrid’s portly former president Jesus Gil tested his new pacemaker by going to watch the Rojiblancos’ 4-3 loss to Villarreal back in 2003. He wasn’t impressed with what he witnessed. “There are too many bloody passengers,” Atleti’s head honcho later raged about the squad. “Lluis Carreras, Santi and Jorge Otero are not good enough. I feel like not paying them and anyone who does not like it can die!”
THERE WERE AUDIBLE GASPS In THE ROOM WHEN KEEGAN WAS UNVEILED BY SAINTS
TRAP BLOWS HIS TOP
Giovanni Trapattoni blasted his Bayern Munich players over a lack of commitment in a bizarre rant in his own unique version of German in 1998. “In this game, it was two, three or four players who were weak like an empty bottle,” bellowed the Italian following a 1-0 defeat to Schalke. He then stormed out and resigned only three weeks later.
“I’LL CALL YOU BACK…”
Roy Keane isn’t a particularly happy man at the best of times. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when he took umbrage to a journalist letting his mobile phone ring not once, but twice during a press conference while he was the manager of Ipswich in 2009. “Why don’t you turn it off?” snarled the happy-go-lucky Irishman. Had it rung once more, we suspect the reporter would’ve needed the hands-free function.
FROM FERGIE WITH LOVE
Angered by reports in the Spanish press that Real Madrid were set to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Ferguson responded with a firm denial. “Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t sell that mob a virus,” the Scot snarled. He never did agree to the sale of a lethal strain of influenza, although Ronaldo ended up at the Santiago Bernabeu the following summer.
FACTS OF LIFE (AND DEATH)
Liverpool were seven points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League in January 2009 when Rafa Benitez fell victim to Fergie’s mind games. Reacting to the suggestion the Reds’ had a more favourable run of fixtures, the Spanish gaffer pulled out a piece of paper and began to read a list of “facts” about the Scot’s conduct. United went on to secure the title by four points from the Reds, and years later Fergie claimed his rival’s tirade ‘killed’ the Liverpool boss.
ENTER HEAD IN THE SAND MAN
In 2015, Leicester gaffer Nigel Pearson called journalist Ian Baker an “ostrich” for questioning him after he said his team had been unfairly criticised. When pressed on his choice of flightless bird, Pearson explained the reporter had his head in the sand (which, to be fair, makes sense), before calling him “daft” and “stupid”.
Left Kinnear let rip at a critical journo in his first presser as Newcastle boss