Published on February 18th, 2014 | by Daniel Cheeseman1
Behind the scenes of the City v Barcelona press conference
Most people will probably never get the chance to go to a press conference! So, the fact that I was lucky enough to get to both the City and Barcelona press conferences – the day before the two sides clash in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, was something very special!
When I was initially asked if I would like to watch the City and Barcelona press conferences, I was slightly nervous. The idea of being in a room full of press people from all over the country (and the world) was one thing. But, seeing some of the biggest names in football up close, was rather daunting for me – especially as I am quite a shy person! But I knew that this was too good of an opportunity to miss, and so I had already convinced myself that I was going to go as soon as the question had been asked, no matter how nervous I was!
And so I arrived at the press conference, at first it felt like I was entering the TARDIS. One fairly small room was filled to bursting point with journalists from all over the world, and more cameras than you thought were humanly possible!
I was told by one of the press officers that this was THE most people that they had ever seen attend a City press conference! Normally, there are less than half of what were there today! Which is quite unbelievable considering we have played lots of other great teams in the Champions League over the years – like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid!
The press conference itself was very interesting. I was able to listen to what Yaya Toure and Manuel Pellegrini in person, before they would inevitably be taken out of context by many of the sleazy media who are looking for a story. It was also interesting to see Yaya Toure speaking fluent Spanish to the foreign media, as I noticed that he looked a lot more comfortable answering questions in Spanish as opposed to English because he could obviously understand it a lot better.
The Ivorian was in the spotlight for nearly 30 minutes before he was allowed to leave, so then all eyes were on Pellegrini.
A Spanish journalist asked him who he thought was the biggest team in Manchester, he replied “If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it’s ours.” I could already see the headlines on all of the newspapers in the build-up to tomorrow’s game: “Manuel Pellegrini says City are now bigger than United”, so it was interesting to see the stories unfold before me!
I was then lucky enough to go to the Barcelona press conference later that day, which would feature ex-United player Gerard Pique and head coach, Gerardo Martino.
And so I walked back into the same room as before – but to my amazement there seemed to be even more people crammed into this room than before!
There was obviously a lot more Spanish media there because they are a Spanish team, but there were also a few more English journalists and observers that were there to soak up the atmosphere – like me!
Gerard Pique was the first to appear, only to be greeted with the sound of hundreds of cameras snapping pictures every time he cracked a smile or pulled a serious face, which must be quite distracting.
He was asked several Manchester-related questions along the lines of “are you more of a ‘Happy Mondays’ or ‘Oasis’ type of guy?” and “who would you play for nowadays, City or United?” to which he replied ‘Happy Mondays’ and ‘Manchester United’ – which was quite predictable considering his history with the reds.
After Gerard Pique had finished, Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino then emerged and was given the same introduction as those who had previously entered – a ‘flash’ mob of media and photographers.
Gerardo was asked similar questions to Pellegrini, such as “how are you going to approach the game?” and “what are your tactics going to be?”, which all received expected answers. But the question which hauled the best answer was when he was asked “do you think City are like a mini Barcelona?” to which he said “I don’t think City are a mini-Barcelona or a mini- any team. I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world!”, a great answer for any City fan to hear considering where we were this time 15 years ago – playing Macclesfield at Maine Road!
Just when I thought that this wonderful day was over, all of the media (and a few fans) were then all allowed to watch the Barcelona team train on the cold, wet pitch for about 15 minutes or so, which was another moment that I’ll remember for a long time!
It was amazing to see all of those great players such as Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Neymar kicking the ball around as if it was a party balloon, just a few mere feet from us – which all adds to the excitement of Tuesday’s mammoth game between two footballing giants. It’s all set to be one amazing day!
– Daniel Cheeseman