Jose Mourinho, BT Sport, and shameless goading 1

There was a really unpalatable moment at the end of Tottenham’s win over Chelsea last night.  Jose Mourinho was conducting his post-game interview and, rather than quizzing the Portuguese on the mechanics of the game, Ray Stubbs tried desperately hard to create a controversy.

Mourinho is famously volatile and never needs any encouragement to explain away defeat with a series of implausible excuses, but that’s not really the point.  His Chelsea team are ordinarily a very impressive side and only once before (vs Barcelona) has one of his well-organised, uber-disciplined defensive units conceded five times.

So didn’t that warrant a slightly more sensible line of questioning?

Ray Stubbs wasn’t to blame, because he had a director in his ear telling him how to conduct the interview, but the attempt to goad Mourinho into saying something negative about the officials was brazen and shameless - and, depressingly, it was another example of football’s endless deference to storylines.

BT Sport wanted Mourinho to lose his temper.  They wanted him to say something edgy and they tried very hard to make him talk his way into an FA charge.

That can’t be right.

As we enter 2015, the game seems to be heading in a troubling direction.  Somehow, the on-pitch action is becoming secondary to all the nonsense which derives from it.  We don’t seem to want to talk about how games were won or lost, how victories were earned or how goals were scored, we just want soundbytes, controversy and banter.

Given how rarely we’ve seen a Mourinho team handled as they were last night, the natural line of questioning should have related to what he and his players got wrong and not to Phil Dowd’s performance.  BT Sport were chasing a talking-point; the first question was a direct invitation to criticise the referee and it was so transparent as to be cringeworthy.

Re-watch that interview and note Mourinho’s body-language: he knew what was happening and he knew that he was being pushed in a certain direction.

BT Sport do a lot of things right, but that was very weak broadcasting.  Football is not professional wrestling and these stage-managed, talking-head moments have become a far too prominent part of the landscape.

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