FourFourTwo’s definitive guide to the new signing welcome interview

Ashley Cole

Behind the dead eyes and sweet nothings, we know there's nothing to see in our new signings' introductory gambits. Not that we care... 

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Player unveiling videos: they’re awful, aren’t they?

The true, hard-line football heads are not having it. They’re biding their time for the main multimedia event, which is of course the ‘welcome interview’. Traditional. Stunted. Weirdly compelling. Everything we ever want it to be.

Here’s how more or less every one of these goes…

Basic backdrops

Firstly, some technical points. Getting a shot of the club crest or some plastic seating in shot is the industry standard. Both, even better. Much more than this, however, is considered obvious wannabe-auteur nonsense from the in-house media team, worthy of ridicule.

The shot will be tight, with dodgy legwear preferably cropped out.

How big is your club?

One of the main purposes of this piece the to camera is establishing club status. You’re looking for at very least "great", a largely meaningless word that can be applied from Premier to Isthmian League level.

Then it’s all about relative scale. Aston Villa, for example, are slowly being ground down from "massive" to "big" through accumulated signings. Subtle shifts in wording can have serious effects on sanity.

As you slide down the tiers, the vocabulary gets a little more creative. "Great history" can mean anything from beating Corinthians in an 1890 exhibition match to a giant-killing run to the FA Cup fourth round in 1986. "Family club" is when there’s no semblance of history worth citing whatsoever. Or anything at all.

Sweet nothings

The most important thing to note is that this interview will contain nothing of significance or value. We all know this, but will keep analysing each utterance and facial expression anyway. Transfer windows are the premium time for simultaneous acceptance and denial, so it’s all totally fine.

While the poor rabbit staring down the lens of a press officer’s DSLR camera might well be thinking anything from “how did my limited talent get me such heights?” to “at least I’m still getting paid”, it is absolutely not the time or place for such truthful reflection. What’s more, all efforts must be made to imply that the player would be willing to play for free.

Though establishing a Magna Carta-like constitution for the welcome interview would be very much frowned upon, there is very much an accepted script to this show.

Establishing the communication trail

Listen, new signing: we need to know exactly when you first heard about the club’s interest, and exactly how much thinking time you required subsequent to this pivotal moment. Keep a straight face and no one will hack your phone.

No thought at all? Even better. Use the correct terminology, "no-brainer", and we will ask no further questions about whether your brain is used in any other circumstances, including on a football pitch.

So much potential

This month, every footballer wants to help your club: 1) Get back to where it belongs; 2) Reach its potential and, of course; 3) Win trophies.

Below the top flight, "belonging" is the key thread for the welcome interviewee to hold tightly to – and they’re bound to believe that the only place your team definitely doesn’t belong is exactly where it is.

If we’re panning slowly across the pitch during a lull in conversation at a Championship ground that holds over 30,000, the club should be in the Premier League. If we’re talking third tier or below, but has been in the second tier at literally any point ever, by all rights that outfit should be in the Championship.

Optimistic intentions are lovely of course, but in the vast majority of cases, none will be met over the course of a player’s contract duration. Again, we know this, but we also know that we must keep hanging on. Potential is a beautiful and fragile thing, and we give thanks to the welcome video for maintaining it so publicly.

The facilities factor

Below Galactico tier, there’s usually plenty of love offered up to the facilities. Nobody gives a damn what specific facilities are being referred to.

The toilets are plumbed in? The training pitches have visible white lines on them? Jean on reception seemed lovely? Then yes, you’ve been impressed by the facilities – and now you absolutely must say so.

The tone must be kept vague at the ‘facilities moment’ of the interview – perhaps with a gaze or a slight sweep of the arm towards real or imagined facilities in the middle distance.

No facilities mention at Championship level or below means the certain dissolution of the club within 18 months.

Dream, dream, dream

Alright, big shot, you wanna talk about dreams do you?

If you’re arriving at the very top, you grew up within 50 metres of the stadium or you’re Robbie Keane, fine. Otherwise, no. Particularly not those of the boyhood variety. Hope is fine, but we demand a smattering of realism from our welcome interview.

The great impressionists

Whether joining a club, a group or a project, it’s no doubt made a stirring impression on your new addition already. Haven’t got your fill of tired metaphors? Hold your horses. It’s a new chapter, they felt the hunger and desire for something or other, and they’ve bought into the manager’s vision.

Yes, that’s right. In the context of the welcome interview, it’s even possible for Steve Evans or Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen to have had a vision.

Looking forward to getting started

Of course you bloody well are. But thanks for saying so.

New starts and forward momentum are an excellent cover for having not done anything at all for absolutely ages. They’re also brilliant at wiping slates. Whether your past is squeaky clean, or you drop-kicked a team-mate who was preparing to rat out your gambling ring, your history is all but erased from the record on this Day Zero to end them all. Until the next one.

Of course, this getting started business is, like, a whole three days away. Frankly, we’ve already lost interest. Come on, chairman, pull your finger out and give us poor suffering fans our next welcome interview.

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