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COMMENT: Lay off Poch
6:00am Friday 13th December 2013 in Football
This might not be a popular thing to say with some of my media colleagues, but Mauricio Pochettino should ignore any criticism and continue to use a translator for his interviews for as long as he needs.
One of the questions I get asked most often as a journalist who covers Saints each and every day of my working life is ‘when will Pochettino start speaking English?’ The truth is he already does. In fact he speaks it pretty well.
He doesn’t require a translator for day to day interaction with the players, in fact he could conduct his interviews in English should he so wish.
But there is a very big caveat to that.
If you want Pochettino to speak in English then you can forget getting the kind of answers you do right now.
Pochettino’s football English, and his conversational English, is perfectly fine.
However, when he is facing up to the media, which is then what the world sees, he is asked some fairly complex questions. And, in fairness to him, he responds with well reasoned, well thought out and complex answers.
To get your English to such an exacting level of detail takes plenty of time and practise.
You have to accept that maybe Saints don’t quite get the TV coverage they deserve as the broadcast media don’t like using quotes from him through a translator.
But the alternative is only ever getting a few bland pleasantries, rather than the honest and detailed responses he currently gives.
Nothing makes me despair more than when a journalist who doesn’t normally cover the club wades into a press conference and asks him when he’s going to start speaking English.
None of us want to see his translator, David, out of work because he’s a good guy who is becoming part of the fabric of the club at the moment.
But more importantly the media’s duty is not purely to themselves but the fans who are their customers.
The reasons we have press conferences is to ask questions and relay the answers – it might make prettier TV if Pochettino spoke in English but it wouldn’t be half as enlightening for the supporters.
My colleague from the Press Association, Simon Peach, broached the subject with Pochettino very sensitively and sensibly yesterday.
Simon is a big Saints fan and certainly somebody who concurs with these thoughts.
Pochettino eloquently explained his motivation.
“It’s clear that if I were to answer more simple questions I could give also more simple answers, I wouldn’t have any problem with that,” he said.
“The fact is I have an interpreter because he gives me the security that when I have to answer complex questions, and with my complex answers, it’s much better I have an interpreter to make sure nothing is misconstrued.
“I am having English lessons and I should be having more English lessons.
“I don’t see it as an excuse but I do spend from 7am-8pm at the training ground working all day long so that doesn’t give me much time left to have extra English lessons.
“I do also learn a lot from the players and the people at the training ground. They speak to me in English and that’s positive for me so I am progressing.”
At that point he broke into English.
“Communication at the training ground is good but outside in my life is not easy,” he said.
“All the time I improve a lot of words and different sentences but it’s not easy to communicate with you (the media) and in front of the cameras is too difficult.”
Ultimately all that matters is Pochettino’s success with the players, and that is unquestionable right now.
He’s a good bloke, a charismatic and interesting person and somebody who is prepared to explain himself. Surely that’s what every fan wants – a genuine insight from the team’s manager. Nigel Adkins was criticised for not giving that - in English.
Those knocking him should lay off and think about the alternative.
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