Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

By saying so little Borussia Dortmund’s Haaland has said more than most

Posted on 20 May 2020 by Hal Fish

Embed from Getty Images

“We are happy to have controlled the game and to have brought the three points home,” said Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer.

Is that what you want from footballers?

“In games without fans the minutes are very long until the final whistle,” the goalkeeper explained after Bayern beat Union Berlin 2-0.

Really, that’s the kind of personality we’re after? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s nothing personal against Neuer. After all, he is just another footballer who has been media trained to habitually offer up these tepid clichés.

Yet Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland has faced heavy scrutiny for the scarcity of his post-match interview answers.

After Dortmund’s 4-0 Revierderby win over Schalke 04, the players enjoyed their trademark victory celebration despite playing in front of an empty crowd.

In reference to this, Haaland was asked: “Is it [the] kind of message you want to send out?”

With a smirk on his face, Haaland’s response was monosyllabic: “Yes.”

When prompted for further elaboration he shrugged his shoulders and offered little more insight.

Even if the viral video did omit moments where he spoke with more fluidity, it’s not the first time the 19-year-old has come across cold and indifferent in interviews.

From a journalistic point of view, I feel sympathy for the presenters who’ve failed to get little more than a grunt out of the Norwegian.

But who can blame the kid for getting bored of repeating himself.

“How do you feel?” The inevitable question arrives after Haaland scores yet again.

What is he really supposed to say, that would be of any interest?

It’s like when a parent asks a child how their day at school was.

And still, Jacqui Oatley scolded the teenager for his seemingly inadequate responses.

“He’s missing a real opportunity to communicate with the fans who idolise him,” Oatley wrote on twitter.

“He’s 19-years-old. It doesn’t do him any favours,” She added in a follow up tweet, upset that so many fans had taken to social media to defend Haaland.

But right there, like many of his critics, she has missed the point. He had communicated with his fans.

Let’s be honest, the best statement any footballer can ever make comes on the field, not in a post-game interview.

But by standing out from the crowd, Haaland generated more interest from fans than he ever would have done, had he offered up the usual ‘the lads played well today’ kind of response that Oatley seems to be pining for.

The modern game is devoid of eccentric personalities. For every Eric Cantona, there is a squad of Harry Kanes. For every Diego Maradona, there are a million Sergio Agueros.

In a game bereft of the intriguing characters once seen in its past, Haaland could be the perfect antidote.

So seemingly uncharismatic in his post-match responses, he somehow offers up more of a glimpse into genuine personality than so many of his contemporaries.

So why can’t we just let him be?


Featured image credit: Alexandre Simoes/Getty Images