Pep Talk

Manchester City

Most football reporters are seemingly oblivious to anything anybody else says – so much so that their first names, Jeff or Geoff, could easily be rhyming slang for those who don’t want to hear the truth.

Many football managers are similarly oblivious to reality, especially when defeats typically fall on deaf ears or pass by eyes that saw nothing.

This modern football era of ours has enabled so many more managers to join our rather prosaic leagues from the much more exotic overseas outposts of La Liga, Fußball-Bundesliga and, er, the Primeira Liga, which always reminds me of Primula Cheese (originally wrapped in a sort of foil cover that you could never quite cover the remaining cheese with, once opened).

These managers are also deaf and some may even have been dead, judging by the lack of media-friendly soundbites. Those that are alive and kicking usually wish they were (kicking) rather than wearing little, black v-neck pullovers and having to put up with Jeff or Geoff broadcasting instead of receiving.

Their answer: speak louder than words ever could, understand verbs (which make you look as though you’re doing something) and get your upbeat broadcast in before anyone really has a chance to get to the truth. This is very much like party political broadcasting, only with much more designer stubble.

Pep Guardiola went on what he rather cleverly termed the ‘attack and attack’ offensive after Manchester City’s Sunday draw with Liverpool. What this clearly shows is that he and his speech therapist have been working really hard to move him on from tiki-taka and he can now form whole words, all by himself! It may have been a long sabbatical in New York but great to see that those hours on the training ground are really paying off now.

What it also tells us is that Pep lives one day at a time; the problem is that he doesn’t know which day that is:

Broadcaster: “That was a great game for the football neutrals.”

Pep: “But football is complicated. Two teams wanted to win the match and our fans were loud. Sometimes they have been neutralised but not today. Is what Saturday – no, Sunday – afternoons are all about. Not being stuck in neutral on the M60 I think.”

Broadcaster: “Unlike the match.”

Pep: “No. No. I love the match, my players. I sad. You sad. He sad. We sad. They sad. We have been sad. We are used to being sad. One day we will be sad again. We out of Champions League on Wednesday – no, Tuesday – and is very sad for the club, the fans and GPs who cannot now charge us for vaccinations. A lot of players are sad here; they have many problems but I don’t want to change anything.”

Broadcaster: “A City old boy scored the penalty.”

Pep: “There were four penalties but just the one that you saw. We create five clear chances but Lallana missed the best one for us. I saw him after the match before his shower? Jürgen calls this ‘waterboarding’ and he sad too; so, all in all, nobody wins.”

Broadcaster: “As well as two Champions League titles you have also won ten domestic trophies – six league titles and four cups – in three different countries.”

Pep: “Today is one of the most special days of my life because John Stones makes a huge amount of mistakes. I love him. We only have two or three – no, four – days to recover from his last disaster but he has personality. He not sad for long.”

Broadcaster: “The officials made some dubious decisions today.”

Pep: “This is against Liverpool. I am proud that we said nothing and did even less. They have a week to rest and prepare for what they are going to say and make their excuses ahead of the game. Referees and men with their careers on the line need to sit down and talk around a table – maybe in the centre circle, with its own coasters – to make sport better, and less sad.”

About the Author

Mark Rasdall
I am a writer and football historian. My background is in information architecture and online search and all of this has come together in The Football Ground at