Playing under Harry Catterick may have influenced Howard Kendall’s outlook on the media, but he wasn’t going to follow his mentor’s lead when he took the Everton job. In much the same way, Roberto Martinez has flung open doors that were slammed shut at Goodison Park by David Moyes, says NSNO Editor Simon Paul.
In the 60’s, Catterick hated the media glare on football. Two stand-out pieces of footage serve as the exceptions to prove the rule, and watching either “The Golden Vision” or Pathe News’ videos of the Everton changing room before the 1966 FA Cup Final in isolation would paint a picture of a man who embraced the media and all they offered. Aside from these two examples, though, Catterick was never one for indulging either local or national journalists or TV cameras. Watching on, a young Howard Kendall would learn just how he didn’t want to handle those who wrote the headlines about him.
Wine was served at Bellefield, reporters were taken away on pre-season tours, and Kendall enjoyed working with reporters who his former boss would have locked as far away as possible. While there may not be cheese and wine parties at Finch Farm, Roberto Martinez has opened up to the media in a way that his predecessor would never do.
An example of Martinez’s warmth to the media includes this website. Under David Moyes, NSNO was a swear-word at Goodison Park, and on at least one occasion I was informed that “the manager isn’t happy with what you’ve published.” I was caught between a mixture of pride that he even read the site, and disappointment that he didn’t like it. Under Martinez, in his first game in charge at Goodison Park, I was guest in the press box and even interviewed the Spaniard afterwards along with representatives from Toffeeweb and Followtonians. He treated us – as had the rest of the staff – as bonafide members of the media, and his answers to our questions were delivered with sincere eye-contact.
We can argue that Martinez is yet to face tough questions from the Evertonian media, but then there is more than one example of David Moyes on Youtube as he quite simply refused to face tough questions. Either walking out or completely ignoring the question. The Liverpool Echo and it’s correspondents found themselves on the wrong end of Moyes’ temper often enough, with one former chief Everton writer banned from Bellefield, and at times, the entire reporting staff removed from the training grounds. It’s hard to imagine Roberto Martinez handing out banning orders and forcing match reports in the Echo to be written from the Bullens Road because he doesn’t like what he reads.
We could argue that this change also coincides with another major change in management at Goodison Park. Alan Myers has taken over the reigns in the communications office after Paul Tyrell copied his own predecessor and left under something of a cloud. Myers is an Evertonian, and a progressive thinker. He tirelessly answers fans on Twitter and creates hashtags for Evertonians to make their own with a regularity that some might say hints that he perhaps needs to put his phone down every now and then. But this refreshing thinking goes hand in hand with the rapport the team manager has with the media.
Out are the steely stares, and in are the well thought-out, reasoned replies to questions which could easily be given answers that come across as irrational or, for want of a better word, smalltime.
When asked about the trip to Old Trafford tomorrow, Martinez refused to be drawn into what the media want to create out of the meeting between the new and old managers of Everton Football Club, preferring instead to repeat his mantra that football is not about managers, but about players. Moyes, by contrast, let his arrogance and ignorance shine through, insisting that the team he will face is almost identical to that which he left behind, and that they could almost play without a manager. His arrogance that he had drilled his side so well that they could play well without him six months later is only outshone by the utter ignorance that we are watching the same side he left in May.
Ross Barkley barely got a look in under Moyes, while Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, and Romelu Lukaku all joined after he left. Add to that the injury to Leighton Baines handing Bryan Oviedo an opportunity he never saw under the old manager and you have five out of the eleven who will likely start that Moyes has barely seen kick a ball in the Premier League under his stewardship.
Out have gone the fixed gaze and in have come the wildly uncontrollable movements of Martinez’s eyebrows, and instead of a wry smile now and then, we are greeted by a beaming grin from a Spaniard who quite simply looks like he enjoys dealing with the media.
Like Kendall before him, Martinez can use the skills that build this relationship with the media in other areas, and, just like Kendall, I hope he can take the team further than the man he is compared to.
Solo lo mejor.