Is winning over the Press half the battle won?

Pearce Under-21 England manager

Stuart Pearce's new image has failed to win over the English press

The English sporting press is admired for many things, but the way that they can dictate the nation’s mood just by printing a headline means that if the new England manager fails to have them onside, it’s pretty much guaranteed their reign is going to end in failure.

When it was announced Stuart Pearce was to take charge of England’s friendly with Holland, the Sun newspaper ran the story from 17 years ago where Pearce reportedly racially abused Paul Ince. Pearce has never been one for media appearances and often shied away after games as a player, and although the FA has attempted to groom him into somebody who isn’t fazed by facing the press, you can still tell there is something robotic like about his press conferences.

This is a problem for the press, mainly because they can’t get any stories from press conferences and that means their job is harder. Why do you think the English press pine for Jose Mourinho’s return to the Premiership? Or why Blackpool is favoured to come back up with Ian Holloway? These manager’s practically make copy and it’s why the press love them.

England’s last manager Fabio Capello spoke little English, so immediately the press were against him being England manager, and despite him being the most successful (in terms of win ratio) England manager that there has ever been, the FA were forced to get rid of him because of press pressure after an interview Capello gave on Italian radio.

Harry Redknapp has always been a man who has had the press onside, he gives interviews and even has a column ghost written in the Sun, how else would a manager with only one major trophy to his name by the odds on favourite for the biggest job in English football?

The most obvious example of the media fling with Redknapp is the last round of FA Cup matches, Chelsea drew 1-1 with Championship side Birmingham and it was a team in crisis, their young manager who has had an often cagey relationship with this countries media, most of whom are older than Villas-Boas, have piled pressure on his reign ever since results started to turn sour. The next day Tottenham travelled to League One Stevenage and failed to break them down and drew 0-0, but didn’t Tottenham do well to get a replay at a tough ground.

Last Sunday, Tottenham were humiliated 5-2 by rivals Arsenal, with a half-time tactical substitution by Redknapp partly to blame for Tottenham’s second half meltdown. Yet that got very little coverage in the press, even Gareth Bale was given the benefit of the doubt for his dive to win Tottenham a penalty in the first half. I dread to think how the press would have coped if Redknapp was found guilty of tax evasion, maybe it would have been the death of English football.

Football is a results business and if you don’t get results you get sacked, however what some managers don’t realise is that as soon as they become a manager with England they have a battle straight away, either they get the press onside and are allowed more mistakes than others, or they don’t give the press what they want and more often than not, are sacked because of it.

 


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