Editor Andy Muirhead tackles one of Scotland’s Top Football Pundits on the important matters – plus what team does Peter really support? Who would be in his Team X in the SPL? and What three things would he change about the Scottish game and much more….
AM – How did you end up at Radio Clyde as a Pundit/Commentator – what were you doing previously?
PM– I worked for Scottish Television for six years as a broadcast journalist/commentator on Scotland today sport, Scotsport and Extra-time. Before that, I was the Sports Editor at Radio Forth in Edinburgh.
AM – We all know Football fans are very opinionated, but in your personal opinion who are the most opinionated – club wise or the fans who think they know it all?
PM– There is a feeling among some Old Firm fans, not them all, that they know more than supporters of the smaller clubs.
AM – Given that you are somewhat neutral at times during discussions on the Football Phone-in letting Hugh and the boys answer, can you tell us has there been a time when you just think to yourselves that they are talking a load of rubbish but still bite your tongue?
PM– I love your use of the phrase, ‘somewhat neutral’. I thought my neutrality shone through! Anyway, if they are talking rubbish I tell them. Our programme is about opinions and you can’t let some people away with thinking everything they say is gospel and can’t be challenged.
AM – During your time as a Pundit/Commentator what game stands out as the best you have ever witnessed – be it a Scottish game or a game abroad?
PM– Liverpool 0-2 Celtic. I can understand why Scottish people get so angry at English commentators, journalists and some fans for their arrogance and condescending attitude to our game north of the border. This was a classic case. The John Hartson goal will live long in the memory.
AM – What team do you support – given that there has been a lot of rumours and innuendos flying around about your allegiances?
PM– Rumours and innuendos don’t bother me. Some fans use the team you supported as a boy as a way to belittle your opinion. In the west of Scotland, a section of Old Firm fans want to know for bigoted reasons and as a device to suggest you can’t offer a sensible and balanced view if you support the blue or the green. I am a professional journalist covering football. My team is irrelevant.
AM – Can Scotland qualify for the World Cup in 2010, or will it be another major tournament we will be missing out on? And is it just bad luck, inconsistency or the lack of quality players we have at our disposal that is at fault?
PM– I don’t think we are going to make it. George is an enthusiastic manager, but I don’t think he has enough quality to get us there. Even if we had Kris Boyd, I still don’t think we will make it. You make your own luck.
AM – If you could choose between Past & Present Scotland players, who would you choose to be in your Greatest Scotland XI side and who would you choose to manage the side?
PM– Andy Goram, A back four of Danny McGrain, Richard Gough, George Connelly, Sandy Jardine. The midfield would have Billy Bremner, Graeme Souness, Jimmy Johnstone and Kenny Dalglish with Denis Law and Joe Jordan up front. The manager would be Sir Alex Ferguson.
AM – We hear all the time from Old Firm managers, players and former players – as well as some Pundits – state that the Old Firm derby match is the best in the world? Is this true or is just a lot of hype and if so what derby in your eyes in the best in the world?
PM– Hype to a certain degree. It certainly is one of the best for passion and the atmosphere is electric, mostly for the wrong reasons. Technically, it’s not the best derby. I’ve been to the Milan derby, when a young Ronaldo played for Inter, and technically that is better. It wasn’t as exciting as Celtic v Rangers and that was with 90,000 in the San Siro. The pace of the game and the intensity of the battle for a throw in, corner, never mind a goal, all make the Old Firm derby the best for me. I’d like to sample Fenerbahce v Galatasaray and Boca Juniors v River Plate to make my final decision.
AM – Referees are always a hot topic between fans on the Football phone-ins – do you actually believe that these officials are biased towards the Old Firm or against one of the Old Firm over the other, swayed by the crowd or is it all just paranoia?
PM– Paranoia, without a doubt. Referees are as honest as the day is long. They do a terrific job under intense pressure. I can’t say for certain that there hasn’t been a dodgy referee down through the years that may have favoured one or the other, but proving that would be very difficult.
AM – In a recent poll on Scotzine.com it emerged that Hugh Keevins was the most hated pundit in Scottish Football according to our readers – why is it that Pundits are usually the hate figures for the fans and get the brunt of the hatred and anger from them?
PM– It’s simple, many fans don’t want to hear criticism of their team. There are some who don’t want to hear the truth and some who don’t like fair and balanced opinion. I’d rather be hated for an opinion than pander to one club or the other to stay in favour with them. As for Hugh, I regard him as one of the best journalists in Scotland.
AM – Who for you personally was the Greatest Ever Player to kick a ball on the Scottish pitches – whether a Scot or a foreigner?
PM– Henrik Larsson.
AM – Has there been a time when you thought as a Pundit – what the hell am I doing here? Or why do I bother with this?
PM– No! I love football and couldn’t care what game it is and who’s scoring. I am very lucky to do a job that I enjoy.
AM – Our game is heavily criticised by our English neighbours for being a two team league. Is it warranted given that the English game over the past decade – only three clubs have won the EPL title?
PM– Bigger country, more people, better pool of players, more TV money and better competition on a match by match basis. Their football isn’t always the best, but the aforementioned reasons put us at a disadvantage.
AM – If you were in charged of a ‘Team X’ in the SPL what current SPL players would you choose to wear your strip and who would be on the subs bench?
PM– Boruc in goal. A back four of Robbie Neilson, Madjid Bougherra, Gary Caldwell, Paul Dickson. The midfield four consists of McGeady, Brown, Gomis, Nakamura and up front McDonald with Fletcher. The subs would be Boyd, Mendes, Driver, Clarkson and Wilkie.
AM – With the rise of the Internet and of Unofficial Football sites & messageboards – in your eyes are they good for the game or do they fuel criticism against the team and the manager and are a stain on football?
PM– I have no problem with the Internet and all that it brings. I don’t read the websites to get my news or to form an opinion. Fans, however, need a platform to air their views. As long as they are fair and balanced, then I have no problem with message boards. Unfortunately, there are a number of websites that are filled with poison and ignorance.
AM – If there were three things you could choose to change about the Scottish game what would they be?
PM– Scrap replays, the introduction of video evidence and limit yellow cards to each individual competition and then scrap the points gathered against the player at the end of the season.
AM – What are you looking forward to in the next few months of this season?
PM– The Champions league final between Man United and any other team, with Fergie winning to secure the quintuple.
AM – When you first started out covering Football – who did you look up to as a ‘Father Figure’ or someone to aspire to become?
PM– Hugh McIlvanney as a writer and Brian Moore and Bill McLaren as commentators. Good preparation, great commentary and passionate.
AM – When you are not talking about football or watching football – what do you do in your free time?
PM– Run and play 5 a side football. I completed the New York marathon in 2006. My wife and I like to go to the movies and I have an extensive music collection.
AM – If you didn’t have the career you do now – what would you have done instead?
PM– I told my Mum I was going to work at Scottish Television when I was young and I did. I believe if you are determined and set your mind on a goal, you can achieve anything.
AM – Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
PM– I will have completed the five major marathons; New York, London, Chicago, Boston and Berlin. There are other professional goals, but I have them written down on a piece of paper and placed in an envelope. I will open it in five years and speak to you then.