View from the Sofa: Arsene Wenger vs Jose Mourinho was hilarious so why did pundits dodge it?

Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1

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Almost any journalist – or, for that matter, player-turned-pundit – can tell you of a face-palm moment they have had while on the job. I had one while interviewing a high-profile, now retired (and, I’d like to think, currently morbidly obese, incontinent and bereft of friends) Wales international rugby player.

I began the interview with a banal, rhetorical question about whether he was looking forward to the season, with the aim of simply getting the bloke talking. Instead, he scoffed and said something along the lines of “what the hell do you think?”

It was my own fault; I should have opened with what I really wanted to ask him: why he had failed to find a new club in the summer even though the one he was at was an absolute basket case.

I hold no grudges with the idiot, though. No, none at all. I just put the interview down to experience and I bear the bonehead no ill will at all. Honestly.

I was lucky in that the interview, although filmed, was not live. And after the few minutes I’d been allotted with the prat (honestly, I am over it – really), I never saw him again.

 

Sticking to the obvious was the order of the day for the Sky Sports pundits Graeme Souness and Gary Neville, as they dissected the goings-on during the half-time break in the Chelsea v Arsenal game yesterday.

There was plenty to talk about – with a shoving match between Arsène Wenger and Jose Mourinho topping the list for many viewers. A Vine video clip of the incident had, after all, been shared over a thousand times on Twitter by half-time.

Sure, there were other subjects worthy of discussion, namely a penalty given after Laurent Koscielny’s trip on Eden Hazard and the debate over whether Gary Cahill should have been sent off, but the set-to between the two managers deserved more than a cursory couple of seconds’ worth of discussion. For a start, it was hilarious to see how childishly the two men were acting.

But Souness and Neville barely broached the subject, preferring instead to speak about events on the pitch. The discussion was diverting enough, but no different from the same stuff we get served up every week by the Super Sunday mob. Their defence may be that there wasn’t much to say about the bust-up, but there was – namely how funny it was.

What has to be remembered is that live television is extremely difficult and talking about an out-of-the-ordinary event may have been a little too taxing; by sticking to what they knew they avoided putting their feet in their mouths. And, to give them their due, their analysis of the penalty incident and Cahill’s tackle on Alexis Sanchez – which led to the handbags between the managers – was well thought out.

 

So, in solidarity with Neville, Souness and every other presenter who refuses to waver from the line of least deviation, I belatedly address my interview all those years ago with the aforementioned Welsh rugby player.

So here goes: I really did want to know whether he was looking forward to the season. I really did want to get him to wax lyrical about all the pre-season weight training and running he had done. And I truly wish that after his sarcastic response, I had repeated the question. With the suffix “you fat-faced wally”. Not that I hold a grudge.

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