Date: 13th May 2008 at 3:45pm
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You just can’t beat it when a football manager loses the plot and starts ranting like a madman when being interviewed straight after a match!

I can completely understand why some people believe that interviews shouldn’t happen so soon after controversial matches (people say things they possibly don’t mean, etc), but there’s little doubt that it makes for great TV (or radio) at times, and this will be one of the reasons why the broadcasting companies cannot wait to thrust a microphone under the noses of clearly seething coaches or players.

It’s funny, because very often although a lot of these rants can end up moving off-topic and going a bit over the top, those occasions where a manager has simply had enough are usually the only times that you ever hear them genuinely telling it like it is, especially in Scotland where the penalties for speaking out tend to be a bit more openly harsh than elsewhere.

Craig Levein’s rant about Mike McCurry after Dundee United’s game at Ibrox on Saturday is the perfect case in point, although it was perhaps fortunate that Levein is one of the more articulate and genuine managers in this country – can you imagine the sort of language we’d be talking about had it been say Jimmy Calderwood?! In the end although it was clear he was exasperated in the extreme, I felt that Levein still maintained an air of control, and really there was very little if anything he said that an honest man with an objective opinion could disagree with. It was mightily refreshing to hear an SPL manager finally saying what pretty much everyone else in the country already knows and acknowledges, and a far cry from hearing the usual rubbish we get from the pundits when it comes to sensitive issues involving certain clubs.

It was great stuft from Levein – I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a football interview as much since Kevin Keegan’s famous rant at Alex Ferguson back when Man United pipped his Newcastle side for the Premiership back in the mid-’90s! Of course, the reasons for Keegan’s verbal volley that night were an entirely different kettle from Ibrox on Saturday, but emotions were running equally high and the fact that Keegan’s rant was voted amongst the most popular moments in SKY’s 12+ year coverage of English football (in fact it may well have been number one) shows you how popular this sort of thing actually is. Everyone loves to see the human being in people coming out – it proves to us all that even those we look up to in the world of sport, guys that we perhaps feel are not susceptible to the same personal frustrations that annoy us so much in everyday life, can finally crack at times.

I can also remember another former Hearts manager, Alex MacDonald, losing the rag in a big way a few years ago when he was the manager of Airdrie. Doddie was a guy who did tend to show his emotions a tad more than the likes of Levein, but even by his standards the purple-faced rant he had after seeing his side losing to two clearly offside goals was a thing of legend. I can’t remember everything that he said, but the phrase ‘this is LIVELIHOOD stuff here!’ (in reference to the fact that he was in danger of the bullet if any more decisions like that went against him) lingers in the memory, as do the number of veins that were sticking out of his neck when he shouted it on at least three occasions!

Talking of personal frustrations, just thinking about former Hearts greats like these two guys is beginning to make me pine for the good old days when we could relate to the guys at our club. It’s the same emotion that watching the former cup winners at Robbie Neilson’s game brought out on Sunday, like a mixture of sadness and anger. What would we give for someone like Levein or MacDonald back at the Tynecastle helm now?


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