Manager speaksContinuing with our look at the world of football language, we post an interview from 2007 that we carried out with a manager on what kind of clichés he uses and why. You can listen to the interview by downloading the file above and you will find explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) at the foot of the post.

Football Phrases | Football Clichés

Transcript: A manager speaks

Damian: Yes, so on today’s show we are talking about footballing clichés and to help us understand a little bit more about what they are we interviewed a manager from England, a non-league manager, about what kind of clichés he uses and why.
Damian: Adrian, how are you doing?
Adrian: Yes, very well thanks, Damian.
Damian: OK, talk a little bit about clichés.
Adrian: Well, cliches, I mean they’re … I think the general public they watch ‘Match of the Day’, you know, players tend to come out with the same things, managers tend to come out with the same things. Clichés you hear them again and again and, you know, it kind of … people think, ah, stupid footballers, stupid managers, but to be perfectly honest I think the thing about clichés is they’re clichés because they are very often true and they’re very often right.
Gareth: Which is a cliché in itself
Adrian …in itself.

Damian: Can you give us an example?
Adrian: Well, you know, ‘over the moon’ I mean, you know, the elation of scoring, the elation of winning, you know, that’s how you feel ‘over the moon’.

Damian: And the opposite of that of course is …
Adrian: The classic, ‘sick as a parrot’. I mean, I’m not sure how parrots, you know, generally feel but ‘sick as a parrot’ has kind of come into the, you know, into the sort of the language of football. Everyone knows what you mean by it, you know, you’ve just lost a penalty shoot-out, you’ve just been knocked out of the Cup in the semi-final, you’ve lost the League on goal difference, you’ve just missed the play-off place – ‘sick as parrot’. Everyone knows what it means, you know, and really it’s almost … it’s so cliched it just … it just, there’s nothing else you can say that would better it almost.

Damian: I then asked Adrian what kind of clichés he uses with his team.
Adrian: I know I fall into the traps when I’m on the sideline or in the changing rooms before with my…they’re amateur players but it still means as much to them as it does to Real Madrid, Man United players. You hear yourself saying the same things, you know, you get a bit of ribbing about it but, you know, half time …

Damian: For example?
Adrian: You know pre-match, you’re trying to wind them up, you’re trying to get them going, you know, ‘there’s no place for losers’; you know, ‘winning is an attitude’; ‘when you cross the white line’, you know, ‘you leave it all on the pitch’; I don’t want anyone coming off that pitch thinking they haven’t ‘given 100%’; ‘110%,’ you know, I’m no mathematician but I don’t think you can give 110% but I often ask my players to give me 110% and they very often do, you know. ‘You only get out what you out in’; Or maybe you will have a go at them, I mean, I try not to swear at my players but occasionally you have to kind of gee them up a bit. You know, my grandmother can play better than that, you know, or words to that effect. It’s stuff you’ve heard before.

Quite often I don’t know if it makes an impact on the players or not, because, you know, they’ve heard it time and time again. But I think, if you pitch it right, you know, and you use it…I think sometimes it comes from the heart you just say, you know, what you really mean and they get the message even if it’s in cliché form. But at the end of the game, great game, OK, didn’t go well for us today, (a) game of two halves is always a good one. It only takes a second to score a goal – Brian Clough, yes. I mean, some of the managers they are better at it than others. Some of the managers actively avoid clichés but I don’t think they’re getting the message over any better really, but yes, it’s good fun.

Clichés used in this report

You can find many more examples of cliches and football phrases here.


‘Match of the Day’: The main football highlights show in the UK

the elation: The joy, the deep happiness

a penalty shoot-out: When a cup game is drawn then penalties are used to decide the winner

on goal difference: This system is used to divide or separate teams that have the same number of points in the league. It is calculated by subtracting the goals against from the goals scored.

I fall into the traps: I do the same things as others; I make the same mistakes

you get a bit of ribbing: To receive some banter, when others jokingly criticise you

to swear at: To use bad language

gee them up a bit: To encourage the players

if you pitch it right: To strike the right tone of speech, to make it relevant to the players

Brian Clough: Famous football manager who coined the phrase, ‘it only takes a second to score a goal’

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Football ClichesEpisode 38