Klopp breaks the pantomime of press conferences

Published date07 February 2023
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Jürgen Klopp takes a seat in the press conference room at Molineux and fields questions about Liverpool's latest defeat. He looks a little haggard these days, like a homeless wizard: the face worn and weathered, a thick Arctic forest of a beard hanging from him

Deep breaths. Voice cracked and familiar. Baseball cap drawn low over sad eyes. On the walls at Liverpool's training ground, there are photographs from his arrival, a younger and more handsome man staring him down every day he comes into work. Seven years.

How has it only been seven years? How has it already been seven years? Somebody asks a question about Liverpool's slow starts. Something about mentality. Suddenly he recognises a face, a name, some words, a feeling. And a brief and powerful memory flickers and ignites inside him.

"It's really difficult to talk to you, if I'm 100 per cent honest," Klopp snapped at James Pearce, a Liverpool reporter from the Athletic, on Saturday night. "You know why? For all the things you wrote."

And of course, Klopp's outburst seems to have provoked all the usual trimmings of shock and outrage from all the usual places. Personally, I'm surprised this kind of thing doesn't happen more often. Particularly when you consider the rawness of the emotions involved, the artificiality of the setting, the staggering gulf in expertise between those doing the asking and those doing the answering.


Just pause for a second to consider how much more Klopp must know about his job than the average attendee at one of his press conferences. And this is no slight on the football press, by the way: these are by definition quite different jobs with different functions, different target audiences, almost a different language. This largely explains why so many football press conferences produce so little of genuine intellectual value: the common ground between the interlocutors is so narrow as to be meaningless.

And yet there remains a strange ritualistic power to the press conference, into which all its participants willingly buy. There are coaches for whom the press conference dais may as well be their pulpit: a piece of performance theatre as intrinsic to their brand as anything they do on a training pitch.

There are journalists whose entire job revolves around press conferences: driving to them, waiting for them to start, driving home from them. The little...

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