MJ: You’ve spoken on how you need to be fully immersed in what you’re working on, but do you sometimes find it difficult to escape the football bubble?
PB: Yes I do. If I go to the pub, people won’t ask me about the situation in Syria. They will want to talk about football because they know I’m interested in it.
But I’m the same! Even if I’m at home and we have guests, I might suggest watching a Barcelona game that we’ve got recorded, so it is kind of voluntary.
In many respects, I am addicted to football.
MJ: You’ve been in the industry for a long time. How has football writing changed throughout your career?
PB: It’s changed immensely. There are far more people doing it, a lot who I wouldn’t call professionals.
Theres also a barrier between yourself and the players. We’re certainly not in the same financial bracket as them anymore! The in-England clubs do shield them. In America, the relationships between the players and the media are much stronger, and we envy that. We truly envy that.
In all honesty, I’m glad I’m coming to the end of my career instead of starting out. Mainly due to the workload that 24 hour media demands. There’s really no time to think!
In those circumstances I have to say the quality in the written-in press is very good considering the pressures that the journalists are under.
Above all, for journalists in their twenties and thirties, the pressure it must put them under domestically when they are trying to bring up young up families.
MJ:With that in mind, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
PB: I’d say two things. The first would be to diversify yourself as a writer.
The second would be to be yourself. If you love football, then your opinion is valid. One of the main failings I think about modern journalism – not just in football or in sport, but in politics as well – is that people deal in perception.
I like people to say “this is wrong” or “this is right”. Not do things the sneaky way and pretend there is somebody outraged. If you’re outraged, say so; don’t hide behind an anonymous block of people or a silent majority.
If you’re immersed in football, then your opinion has to be heard, because you’re an expert in the game and you should treat yourself as such. I do wish more writers would do that.