TV pundits and journalists try get the best out of managers and players in their pre-match press conferences and post-match interviews. And sometimes the interviewee snaps… live on air.
The Premier League has seen several managers snap in interviews and here is the pick of the bunch:
Roberto Mancini concedes Premier League title… then wins it
Manchester City had just cut Manchester United’s lead at the top of the 2011-12 Premier League to five points with five games to go with an emphatic 4-0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had been beaten 1-0 at Wigan Athletic on the same night and the Manchester derby was coming up at the end of the month.
However, City boss Roberto Mancini was still declaring the Premier League title race over for this side, as per his post-match interview that night:
“It’s still over, because United are a fantastic team and I don’t think they can lose five points,” said Mancini. “I will fight always, every day, and so will my team, but now it’s too late. This is not mind games. I’m not saying this to take the pressure off… we will do our best because we are professional, but we lost points against too many teams.”
Manchester United would drop points two games later in a thrilling 4-4 draw against Everton before Vincent Kompany scored the winner in the Manchester derby to give the blue half of Manchester the advantage in the Premier League race.
However, Mancini’s side nearly blew it on the final day before Sergio Agüero’s historic, dramatic, late winner versus Queens Park Rangers. A game in which punters could have found odds of 1000/1 in the Premier League betting at Betfair moments before Edin Džeko equalised.
Tim Flowers has bottle
As the 1994-95 Premier League title race was coming down to the wire between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United, the infamous Scot had declared that Kenny Dalglish’s side “will have to finish like Devon Loch to give us any chance”.
Whilst the runaway leader of the 1956 Grand National did indeed trip up and lose the lead, Blackburn Rovers didn’t.
However, during the title race, Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Tim Flowers would have a rant following their 1-0 win over Newcastle United in the penultimate game of the season. Flowers said to the post-match interviewer:
“Don’t talk to me about bottle,” Flowers said, “don’t talk to me about bottling it, ‘cause that’s bottle out there. That’s quality players out there, giving their all… we’re gonna fight to the death, ‘cause we’ve got bottle… all we can say is we’ll give exactly what we’ve given today, exactly what we’ve given all season, and that’s 100% bottle.”
Blackburn Rovers went on to win the 1994-95 Premier League title by one point, with help from West Ham United holding Manchester United to a draw on the final day of the season.
Rafa Benítez’s ‘facts’
Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez appeared to be feeling the pressure of being seven points clear at the top of the Premier League in January 2009.
When asked for his reaction to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments on the Premier League fixture list, the Reds boss took a sheet of notes from his jacket pocket and began a five-minute rant aimed at the Manchester United manager.
Stressing he was “only talking about facts”, Benítez claimed Ferguson was above the law and accused him of “killing referees”. Some of the key quotes from the Liverpool manager:
“I was surprised by what has been said, but maybe they [Manchester United] are nervous because we are at the top of the table.
“But I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start. But I have seen some facts. On 1 November, they played Hull and Mr Ferguson had a two-match touchline ban and a £10,000 fine after confronting Mike Dean, the referee, for improper conduct.
“During the Respect campaign – and this is a fact – Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett. He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.
“Then he was talking about the fixtures. Two years ago we were playing a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn’t say anything. Now he is complaining about everything, that everybody is against United. But the second half of the season will see them playing at home against all the teams at the top of the table. It is a fantastic advantage.
“But at Christmas, United played on the 29th and the rest of the teams played on the 28th. We were away against Newcastle two days after playing Bolton. They were playing about 40 hours later, they were not complaining then.
“We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff. They are always going man to man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking.
“All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens.”
As per many Premier League predictions at the time, Liverpool folded under pressure and Manchester United duly went on to win the Premier League title that year…
Kevin Keegan loves it
In January 1996 Newcastle United had opened up a 12-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
However, they started stumbling badly in mid-February, going through a spell of just two wins in eight which included five defeats, including a 1-0 loss at home to Manchester United. Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were going on a long unbeaten run to close the gap on the Magpies, ultimately overtaking them for the crown.
Following a 1-0 win at Leeds United that left Newcastle three points behind Manchester United, but with two games to go compared to the Red Devils’ one.
Ferguson had implied that teams weren’t trying as hard against Newcastle as they were United, and following the win at Leeds Kevin Keegan infamously snapped during a post-match interview on Sky Sports, saying:
“A lot of things have been said over the past few days, some of it slanderous. We’ve never commented.
“When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce…
“I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.”
Newcastle would draw their final two games whilst Manchester United would produce a comfortable win at Middlesbrough to seal the 1995-96 Premier League title.
Ron Atkinson must not have been bad then
Coventry City had just lost 1-0 at fellow relegation rivals Southampton in March 1996, leaving the Sky Blues in the bottom three with seven games remaining.
The experienced manager was clearly under pressure and reacted badly when Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys told him time was running out. Atkinson raged:
“I’m sorry, you can sit there and play with all your silly machines as much as you like.
“If the boys play badly I’ll whip ’em, but I ain’t whipping them for that. Who was the man of the match award?”
“Dave Beasant”, the Southampton goalkeeper, Keys replied.
“Oh, sorry, so he must not have played that bad then. Thanks very much, lads. Goodnight.”
Ron Atkinson would then take off his headphones and walk off. However, the former-Manchester United manager was able to keep Coventry City in the Premier League that season, surviving on goal difference, with Manchester City relegated on the final day.
After Manchester United fell 12 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City back on Boxing Day following a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley, José Mourinho didn’t react too well in his post-match interview.
Despite spending nearly £300 million in his two seasons at Old Trafford, the United boss felt they didn’t have a right to compete with Manchester City, who have spent £361 million on players during that time.
“We are in the second year of trying to rebuild a football team that you know is not one of the best teams in the world.
“Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers.”
José Mourinho’s notable signings as Manchester United manager have been Paul Pogba (£89m), Romelu Lukaku (£75m), Nemanja Matić (£40m), Victor Lindelöf (£31m), Eric Bailly (£30m) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£26.3m).
However, last summer Manchester City spent big on three defenders and a goalkeeper, as Mourinho was referring too.
Kyle Walker joined the Citizens from Tottenham Hotspur for an initial £45m, Benjamin Mendy from AS Monaco for £52m and Danilo from Real Madrid for £26.5m.
The United boss added:
“[Spending £300m] is not enough.
“The price for the big clubs is different than for the other clubs. The big historical clubs are normally punished in the market because of that history.
“The boys are doing what they can and they are doing fine.”
Manchester City currently have a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with eight games to go.
Joe Kinnear was a surprise interim appointment at Newcastle United in September 2008 – nearly four years since his previous job and more than nine years since he last managed in the Premier League.
The former-Wimbledon manager made a foul-mouthed start to his time at St James’ Park with a massive rant at a journalist who’d questioned his appointment.
Some of Kinnear’s rant is as follows:
“Which one’s Simon Bird? You’re a c***!”
Next up was journalist Niall Hickman on the receiving end:
“You are out of order. Absolutely f****** out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you, you can f*** off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that f****** crap. No f****** way, lies.”
Joe Kinnear would go on for more than 10 minutes, totalling 52 swear words in all.
The Irishman would win just four of his 18 games in charge of the Magpies before a medical condition would put an end to his time in charge. Alan Shearer would take charge for the final eight games, winning just one as Newcastle were relegated.
Harry Redknapp’s no wheeler-dealer
Harry Redknapp has a reputation for being a good bargain man in the transfer market. However, as Tottenham Hotspur manager in 2010, he took exception to Sky Sports interviewer Rob Palmer.
The very brief interview went as follows:
Rob Palmer: “You’ve made your name as a wheeler and dealer, there’s not been much wheeling and dealing…”
Harry Redknapp: “No, no, no, I’m not a wheeler and dealer, no, f*** off”
Rob Palmer: “No Harry, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Harry Redknapp: “I’m not a f***ing wheeler and dealer, don’t even, don’t say that, I’m a f****** football manager.”
Two days later Harry Redknapp signed star playmaker Rafael van der Vaart for a bargain £8 million…
Roy Hodgson avoiding tricky questions
Following his side’s 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers in November 2011, West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson reacted angrily in a post-match interview with Match of the Day’s Ivan Gaskell.
The result had actually left the Baggies in the top half on course for their best-ever Premier League finish.
However, Hodgson didn’t come across too happy:
Roy Hodgson: “We were rocked back by another decision I find hard to accept.”
Ivan Gaskell: “Which one?”
Roy Hodgson: “Which one do you think?”
Ivan Gaskell: “I’m asking you.”
Roy Hodgson: “Well I’ll leave it then. If you’re going to be tricky like that I won’t even bother to carry on. Stop it here, shall we? Gonna be tricky with your questions? Let’s start again. Which one? Well how many decisions were there? Only had two shots at goal. One was a penalty and one was a strike at goal our goalkeeper saved. So what decision are we talking about? Let’s not take the piss here.”
Roy Keane on Alf-Inge Håland
Roy Keane missed most of the 1997-98 Premier League season after suffering a season-ending knee injury after trying to trip up Leeds United’s Alf-Inge Håland in September 1997.
According to the fiery Irishman in his first autobiography, Håland had claimed Keane was faking it at the time.
Three years later and the Norwegian was playing for Manchester City. In the Manchester derby in April 2001, Keane destroyed Håland’s right knee.
In his 2002 book, Keane explained his version of the incident:
“I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. “And don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal [David] Wetherall there’s some for him as well. I didn’t wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room.”
At the time Roy Keane was fined £5,000 and received a three-match ban. However, after the release of his book several years later, the FA added an additional five games and a £150,000 fine.