The Boot Room talks managerial pressure with Liverpool legend John Barnes
The Boot Room recently had the opportunity to interview a footballing legend in his own right, not only at Anfield but all around the country. John Barnes’ name is synonymous with Liverpool and; giving his opinion with clarity and intelligence, is always a fascinating listen. In particular, Barnes discussed the impact of media speculation on Brendan Rodgers’ eventual fate.
Media is having a growing effect on the modern game, be it social media or punditry in glossy studios. John Barnes recognises the external effects that plagues a footballer these days and furthermore, managers. Given that his voice has been well echoed around media outlets about his position on “the Rooney Rule” and his rather large following on Twitter, he is fully aware that a manager’s position soon becomes almost untenable if a manager reacts to any media pressure.
Stating “Any manager at any club is under a degree of pressure” when asked about the role that media has had in the recent sacking of Brendan Rodgers. “I don’t think that is necessarily any greater at Liverpool because it’s a football thing, something that happens in the game in general.” It was fairly obvious that there was a media campaign against Rodgers, to the extent of twitter campaigns against him and large amount of punditry time after matches analysing his mistakes. We have to accept the fact that of a manager faltering at the highest level will get the attention of millions of people that watch our League across the globe.
But it’s not just Liverpool according to the Jamaican-born former Red. “I’m sure that bosses such as Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs are under the spotlight too. Brendan Rodgers is not the only manager to have experienced the media effect with power of the voices and fans stronger now.” Most managers in the Premier League are made very aware of the ramblings of sports studios and match analysis. This is only enhanced by the fact of social media interaction on the likes of Match of the Day, Sky Sports News and BT Sport, all with their own ‘hashtags’ to join or initiate a discussion.
Normally of course, fans do not need a ‘hashtag’ to incentivise a debate. Come match day, all you have to do is search the team’s name or acronym and you will find a plethora of opinions, ranging from local journalists to media outlets, and parody accounts to supporters. Even big followings of accounts such as Joe, Paddy Power and to a lesser extent in footballing vines, host instant outputs on either breaking news or judging on a side’s progress mid game. This creates an abundance of debate on nationwide shows that I have mentioned previously, leading up to pressure building up on a manager.
“It may not be nice, but media power is a reality of football and something managers just have to cope with.” Barnes claimed. This is a statement that should have a lasting effect for everyone when you hear people call for a manager’s head, taking his livelihood away, but even the most ineffable managers are affected by the pressure at some point in their careers. Since Jurgen Klopp; Rodgers’ replacement, took over, he has been on the back of every tabloid and broadsheet, mentioned at the top of every news site you can imagine, and all this without even playing a match. With Jurgen, it is different. It is a development, but then again so was Rodgers’ plan. “Judge me on the team in three years” Brendan famously said, but in the modern game, his tenure which was ironically long, you can’t sustain a team that isn’t winning for very long without your name being thrown to the wolves.
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