EXCLUSIVE Alistair Mann Interview: Mancini, Balotelli, Silva, CityTV, Technology, Preparation And MORE!

5 Oct

Alistair Mann is one of the top commentators in the country and can often be heard on Match of the Day. Also a regular on CityTV, here he gives up his time to talk about his career, football in general and his thoughts on all things Manchester City.

View From A Blue: How did you get involved with the media?

Alistair Mann: While I was still at school I first worked voluntarily for Key 103′s predecessor, Piccadilly Radio, helping out Tim Grundy and then James H Reeve on their Saturday afternoon football shows. I did it for years. I loved it. I then did a one year Journalism course and after a brief spell in newspapers got a job as a trainee sports researcher at Granada TV.

VFAB: Is there any commentator you have particularly admired?

AM: I was fortunate to have worked during my first years in TV with Martin Tyler, who was Granada’s commentator at the time. He let me watch him at work and I often sat alongside him with headphones on, listening to him. He was, and still is, the best for me and I consider it a privilege to have been able to learn so much from a master.

VFAB: In your years of commentating, has there been any standout moment?

AM: While I have been lucky enough to commentate on many fantastic games, seen many incredible goals and described many outstanding moments, the stand out moment for me was a Bolton v Blackburn game ten years ago when I got a call half way through telling me my wife had gone into labour! I managed to get through the game, just about, before dashing from the Reebok Stadium to Hope Hospital in Salford to see my son born. It was a night I will literally never forget!

VFAB: Do you have any further ambitions?

AM: I think you must always have ambitions. I have many professional goals and targets that I have set myself but I keep them to myself.

VFAB: What, in your opinion, makes a good commentator?

AM: A good commentator is one who can add something to what’s being watched, that’s not intrusive and possesses a sense of humour along the way. We are, after all, in the entertainment business! 

VFAB: How much preparation do you put into an ‘average’ match, and how in fact do you prepare for a game?

AM: On average I will do around twenty hours of preparation for every game. It can often be more when I am doing a team I haven’t done before such as Napoli in Manchester City’s first Champions League game. It’s my job to know information about players and teams that viewers may not. I will use books such as Sky Football Yearbook and the internet of course, although you have to double check facts as there are often mistakes on it. The other thing I do is watch as much football as I can! Sounds like a chore! It’s the best way to keep up to date with other teams and of course helps the identification process. 

VFAB: What has been the biggest change in football you have seen since you started commentating?

AM: Without doubt it’s the volume of football coverage. When I grew up there was probably a handful of live games each season, such as the Cup Final, World Cups, and occasional England home games. Now there’s a dozen live games every weekend available in this country including Spanish, Italian, German leagues etc. I still believe that there’s a vital part for highlight shows too as the consistently high audience figures for Match Of The Day prove.

VFAB: If you had the power, would you bring in any changes to the game?

AM: I think that goal line technology is a must. It’s quick, easy and can settle a matter of fact as it does in sports like Ice Hockey. I would be quite happy for technology to be introduced across the board for offsides, whether an incident occurred inside or outside the area and other matters of fact. It may become too complicated for matters of judgement.

VFAB: How important nowadays are the likes of Twitter and Facebook for you, whether in breaking news or just interacting with fans?

AM: I think they have a part to play to some degree for some people but I just use it to have  a bit of fun to be honest!

VFAB: You’ve been involved with City for a long time now, whether in commentating on matches or narrating end of season DVDs. How did that come about?

AM: I have always worked in the Manchester area and always lived in the Manchester area so I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to be involved in a number of DVDs for the regional clubs. I’ve worked for City, United, Bolton, Liverpool and further afield even Portsmouth, Arsenal, Leicester and Birmingham.  Since the onset of City TV in the last couple of years I have worked even more closely with City and I have to say it’s been fantastic. The quality of what they are producing is outstanding, the people behind the scenes are hugely talented and the football has been getting better and better. 

VFAB: You can often be heard on the pitch at half-time of home games, talking about what’s happened. Do you ever receive stick from City fans who disagree with what you say?

AM: If they have disagreed with what I’m saying, and I’m sure some have, they’ve never let me know. To be honest, football is all about opinions and having arguments and differing views is what watching football should be about. What else would we talk about? The X Factor?!  

VFAB: How would you assess City’s start to the season?

AM: It’s been very impressive indeed. To be joint top, unbeaten domestically and scoring freely is very encouraging. The Bayern Munich defeat was a good lesson in just how hard the Champions League can be. They are a very strong side, top of the Bundesliga and with years of Champions League experience. A two nil scoreline can hardly be deemed as a catastrophe. 

VFAB: We’ve seen City draw against Napoli and lose to Bayern in the Champions League. How do you think City will fare in the competition?

AM: I think it was always going to be a big ask for City once they were in pot three of the draw. They are definitely in the toughest group. Both Napoli and Bayern are top of their respective divisions. That said, ten points is usually the necessary target to reach the knockout stages so I think City will have to beat Villareal home and away and then Bayern at home in their final game. A draw in Naples would be a useful bonus.    

VFAB: How would you rate City’s signings in the summer transfer window?

AM: I think that City have bought extremely well. I don’t see the point in getting bogged down in the debate about how much they’ve paid as all the top clubs pay high fees for the best players – that’s just the way economics works.  I think Savic was a shrewd bit of business – he’s only 20 and is a Nemanja Vidic in the making. I think Aguero is a gifted technician and a prolific scorer. I saw him at Atletico Madrid and I think City will benefit from someone who will integrate himself into the club completely. He will give his all to City, he’ll settle into Manchester and he will be at the club for as long as the club want him.

Clichy is perfect for the advancing left back style that City play. City’s full backs have to provide the width in attack and still be fit enough to be back defending and Clichy is a natural athlete. Nasri is a wonderful player to watch. So easy on the eye and he will add yet another string to City’s creative bow. As for Hargreaves, well he could turn out to be the biggest bonus of the lot! At his peak he was a world class midfielder. An engine, box to box midfielder with an eye for goal. A perfect modern day midfielder. If he stays fit, which he’s determined to do, Roberto Mancini has pulled off a coup! 

VFAB: Any thoughts on Mario Balotelli?

AM: I know how good Balotelli can be. I think the City fans have seen glimpses of it already. He is one of those players who just finds the game so easy. He’s 21, just, and has been living in a foreign City, largely on his own with its many distractions. I think his relationship with Mancini is like a father/son. I think that he is at the right club, with the right manager and given time he has the potential to become legendary. Remember Eric Cantona was supposedly nothing but trouble, but with the right manager and the right cause, he transformed United.
VFAB: What are your views on Roberto Mancini?

AM: He is the perfect manager for City. Hugely focused, incredibly motivated to succeed and with the ideal mentality to deal with any dressing room egos. He won’t leave City until he achieves what he set out to do and make City an established title challenger and regular trophy winner. He is strong and unafraid of making big decisions as proven in the wake of the Tevez/Bayern Munich episode.

VFAB: Who is your favourite ever City player and why?

AM: I have had many favourite players in football. Internationally, Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta; domestically, Mark Hughes, Steven Gerrard and Alan Shearer. For City it has to be a modern day player – David Silva. I could watch him all day. He is composed, balanced, quick thinking and yet in a way, what he does is so simple. Short five or six yard passes which he uses to devastating effect. He splits defences wide open with them and has the awareness and presence of mind to put the exact weight and direction that is required. The frightening thing is that he’s not guaranteed a place in the Spanish national side!

Many thanks to Alistair who kindly gave up his time to answer my questions. Let me know below your thoughts and any reaction to what Alistair has said above.

One Response to “EXCLUSIVE Alistair Mann Interview: Mancini, Balotelli, Silva, CityTV, Technology, Preparation And MORE!”

  1. Dental Malzeme 08/03/2023 at 7:41 pm #


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