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Shaking hands, toothbrushes and an hour of chat – new Palace boss Oliver Glasner debuts in Beckenham


A full 57 minutes after starting, new Crystal Palace manager Oliver Glasner finished his debut media conference, held at the club’s training ground in Beckenham on Friday.

It is becoming the norm in recent years for the Eagles not to have a media conference with the sole purpose of announcing a new manager.

No special media arrangements had been made for Glasner either – the Austrian is just the fourth permanent non-British manager in more than a century of the club’s existence after Attilio Lombardo, Frank de Boer and Patrick Vieira.

In fact it was for De Boer that the club last held an announcement presser and that was on June 26, 2017 – the first day of his 77 days in the role.

Since then, Roy Hodgson has officially taken the job three times (September 15, 2017, March 21, 2023 and July 3, 2023), and Vieira (July 4, 2021) once, and they have, on every occasion, spoken to the media for the first time in a regulation pre-match media conference.

Overseeing the manager’s media commitments at Palace is their vastly-experienced head of PR and media relations Joanne Whittle, assisted by her media relations manager Kimberley Vogel.

Under Hodgson, these pre-match media conferences usually lasted around 30 minutes, with up to 10 or so media representatives present – but Friday was different.

When The Times’ representative entered the room a full half hour before the conference started, it was packed and they asked rhetorically: “Where should I sit? There’s not enough chairs.”

There were, just, and at exactly 12:59pm, one minute before the conference was due to start, Glasner entered.

But instead of going straight to the top table, packed with microphones, he instead went around the whole room, shaking hands with all 21 media representatives and introducing himself to each and every one. This included seven camera operatives of whom he was determined to fulfil his handshake marathon with despite having to negotiate a variety of wires and cables at the back of the room.

Premier League pre-match media conferences at Palace are split into ‘broadcast’ and ‘written’ sections. The broadcast part streamed live by whoever has the rights to do so – including Sky Sports News and PalaceTV.

Sky Sports News started the near-hour long conference, asking seven questions including the now traditional one of ‘when will Ebere Eze/Michael Olise be ready to return from injury?’. This questions ranks up there with the various iterations of ‘has Wilfried Zaha signed a new contract?’ which had become commonplace between the media and Hodgson while the forward was at the club.

Following Sky was Premier League Productions (PLP), the in-house Premier League production company, who asked six questions. Then it was the turn of former Palace employee Alex Howell at the BBC, who asked a further three. talkSPORT got another four in, all by the 19-minute mark, with the broadcast section wrapped up by SNT, who asked three questions in English with a response requested in German, for their clients.

“It’s difficult now to switch,” exclaimed Glasner to his audience about returning to his mother tongue, said with a wide smile on his face – an almost innocent one and one, perhaps, awaiting to be worn down by the pressure and stress which comes hand-in-hand with being one of just 20 people in the world who can call themselves a Premier League manager.

And with that, the broadcast section was over. 23 questions had been and gone in just over 20 minutes.

The second, ‘written’ part of the media conference is a strict cameras-off environment. No live broadcast or text feed are allowed with all quotes kept embargoed until 10:30pm the same night.

This section saw Glasner become more expressive with his hands, at one point pumping his fists together passionately when exclaiming: ‘”I have a lot a belief in us as a team”.

The Sun had started this section asking about Glasner’s health scare as a player (he underwent surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2011) and questioning the Austrian about the history and outcome of Palace and their previous foreign managers.

More questions then followed from The Telegraph, The Times and the Press Association (PA) agency, with Rachel Steinberg from PA bringing Glasner out of his professional gaze, after asking him how his week had been as a human rather than as a manager.

He responded by taking a deep breath and pushing back on his chair, relaxing, before going on to tell a story about being so busy and getting up before his local shop opened and returning after it had closed that he did not have time to buy a secondary toothbrush to keep at the training ground.

Mentioning this casually to the security upon leaving one night this week, he returned the following morning to see one in his locker. It was these “small things” that made all the difference to him. And he said it with a look of happiness throughout.

Next up was the Evening Standard and The Guardian, with Joanne joking “we’re nearly there,” on the 50-minute mark. Edmund Brack from the South London Press then followed, with former South London Press writer Matt Woosnam, now with The Athletic, next, before I wrapped it up with question 44 (about Dean Kiely and set-pieces).

Joanne said ‘OK, that’s it’ and it was over.

Kimberley had been ready to use her German skills if needed, but Glasner had made light work of understanding the nuances of all 44 questions asked in his second language, only once asking a journalist to repeat a question.

Next up, Selhurst Park and Burnley.

Will we see another wide smile from Glasner in his next media conference?

Palace fans will certainly be hoping so.

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