Hey, want to hear the one about the pot calling the kettle black? An American journalist by the name of Brian Strauss, Senior Soccer Writer no less, covering the Manchester United tour in Philadelphia for AOL website FanHouse, spat the dummy in one of his reports this week accusing United players and English journalists of being arrogant! Now this is not meant to be a Yankee bashing exercise just because most of us don’t like the Glazers but these comments are a bit like John Terry accusing a team mate of eying his wife.
It’s a pity because Strauss had made some reasonable observations earlier in his piece before choosing to finish his article with “We know the arrogance that permeates English soccer likely will forever prevent them from making the changes they need to make. That arrogance prevents a rethink, and we’ve had the chance to catch a glimpse of it on Wednesday. United players were steered through the “mixed zone” as they exited their locker room where reporters were waiting to interview them as they passed by.
FanHouse endured, and heard similar stories from at least three others, English journalists, visitors to this country, growing angry if an American approached a player they were interviewing. Mixed zones are a free-for-all. You stick your tape recorder where it will fit and yell out a question when you can. There are no exclusives. But several English reporters felt the rules didn’t apply to them, that their needs were paramount and that they could march into the U.S. and tell us how it’s done.” And he’s not finished yet!
“It was stunning” he continued ranting “and Scholes, for one, was guilty as well, giving two English reporters his time, walking right by an American who asked politely for a moment, then stopping again for another Brit. We’re quite certain that the veteran midfielder has received far better hospitality during his stay in the U.S. than he showed his hosts.”
The irony is that while Strauss found the attitude of ‘The Brits’ objectionable, his piece was itself riddled with the same arrogance that he complained about. It stood out like a sore thumb when he slammed the English journalists for getting “angry if an American approached a player they were interviewing.” Excuse me? Since when has it been acceptable to interrupt someone while he was conducting an interview? But then ‘The Brits’ were of course only visitors to his country and were lecturing the Americans on how it’s done.
Strauss had asked Ferguson earlier in his article the perfectly sensible question of whether “the taxing preseason tours make sense in light of his call for a winter break in England.” Sir Alex responded that “You need pre season games, they’re absolutely essential. Because there’s no way they can do a pre season training program involving endurance and power, and then go into a campaign in a week.You need these games to get their timing, their rhythm, and their breathing right. It’s impossible without it.”
It was not a response that convinced Strauss because he went on to say that “When complaints inevitably surface about burn out and fixtures piling up next season, clubs should be reminded about the pre season tours they have undertaken. The Premier League guarantees 38 games, then add the FA Cup, Carling Cup and European commitments and a successful season takes the workload up to the 70 match mark. So why travel halfway around the world before it all starts?” which is really not a bad point.
As much as these trips help to fine tune squads for the next 10 months, Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp admits there is more behind the tours. “These trips now are so different to what we used to make” Redknapp says “you go to China, America or Australia. Don’t tell me that is the way to prepare for a pre season. It’s not. You’d rather go to Scotland and have a couple of games up there, but it’s all about finance now.” Old ‘arry has never been known to mince his words has he?
Sir Alex has been around for many years and must be trusted to know what’s best for his team but it does seem a little odd that while he’s calling for a winter break to the season he sees nothing wrong with undertaking these grueling type of pre season tours thousands of miles away from home. Either way, the Glaziers will certainly not be worried about any arrogant accusations as they continue to laugh all the way to the bank.
Are these tours simply a money making exercise or do they really benefit the team?