The other day, Pep Guardiola, the manager of the richest and most dominant team in England over the past half-decade, if not more, had himself a bit of a whinge about how “the media and everyone” supports Liverpool, and wants them to win the title. It was a comment you might expect to read on an online fan forum or hear from a talkSport radio caller, not coming from the serial winner of (league) titles in Spain, Germany, and England.
️ "Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone... Our destiny is in our hands, this is important."— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) May 8, 2022
Pep Guardiola's response to @ManCity's emphatic 5-0 win over Newcastle.
@CarrieBrownTV #beINPL #MCINEW #MCFC pic.twitter.com/w6nHihdzR0
That said, Guardiola is not wrong in the sense of football media, especially broadcast media, being dominated by Liverpool voices — and if not Liverpool, then by Manchester United alumni. And that extends well beyond Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville being made kings of the garbage pile that is TV punditry. Friend of the blog @sidcelery used to maintain a list of ex-Liverpool players as media pundits, which presumably still dwarfs any list of any other ex-players involved: last updated in January 2020, with 65 names.
As the season runs down to it's inevitable conclusion, I've been asked re-up my list of ex-Liverpool players\staff appearing as fawning media pundits. Check the list below first and point out any fresh additions - eg Rafa Benitez recently pic.twitter.com/DapndJqb2O— Sid Celery (@sidcelery) January 28, 2020
Part of that is obviously down to Liverpool (and Manchester United) being the most popular teams historically, and media tapping into that fertile ground. But as José Mourinho famously waged his (ultimately ill-fated)
campaign battle against them now approaching almost a decade ago, it creates rather biased coverage at times — which isn’t a problem necessarily, but certainly is when it pretends to be unbiased, which it frequently does.
“Lots of people on TV, but nobody a Chelsea man: Carragher, Liverpool; Thompson, Liverpool; Redknapp, Liverpool. Lawrenson, Liverpool; Hansen, Liverpool. We don’t have one.
“When I retire, 75 years old, I go as a pundit to defend Chelsea on television.”
-José Mourinho; December 2013
And since that’s still at least 15 years away, we get unchecked narratives such as Chelsea being framed as the bad guys in this year’s FA Cup final, presumably for having the temerity to challenge Liverpool’s righteous quest for a treble or a quadruple, and take away secret-sore-loser Jürgen Klopp’s birthright or some such.
It’s not often that the actual underdogs and non-favorites — having already lost one Cup final to the Premier League champions of two years ago, who are also 16 points ahead of us in the table — get that honor!
But you know what, we know a thing or two about being the bad guys, and Thomas Tuchel’s proud to take that label on as well.
“You know Klopp is the master of being the underdog. He can talk you into being the underdog against Villareal and against Benfica – and it’s a miracle, a miracle how they even draw against them. [He] is a fantastic guy, a funny guy, one of very, very best coaches in the world, and that’s what he does.
“When he trained Dortmund, the whole country loved Dortmund. Now he trains Liverpool and you have the feeling the whole country loves Liverpool. It’s big, big, big credit to him and this is what you deal with when you play with a team against him. It’s always like this, but it’s always the fun part.
“So if we are the bad guys tomorrow, then no problem. 49 or 40%, then no problem. We take that role. We don’t want to have the sympathy of the country tomorrow, we want to have the trophy.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London