Joe Morrison is a TV anchor and broadcaster. He has worked with various reputable news agencies including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He has also worked with Newcastle United’s official club TV channel. He then made the move to Asia where he has worked in the Middle East and Singapore broadcasting the English Premier League. He currently works for TEN Action and TEN Sports broadcasting the Champions League and Europa League (among others) to the Middle East, Indian Sub-Continent and Asia. He has also hosted the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards. He has interviewed a host of football personalities from Sir Bobby Robson to Pele to Alan Shearer! Joe is also a passionate supporter of Newcastle United Football Club.
You’ve worked with Newcastle United Football Club where you’ve interviewed some great personalities, including Sir Bobby Robson, what do you have to say about the legendary manager?
He was phenomenal to work under, he treated all his staff exactly the same as his players. The thing that impressed me the most was how he was able to use humbleness and humour to work the media. Many managers today are great as coaches but can’t handle the PR side of the job and basically work themselves into a position of dismissal. The media is important to get the message across to fans but if they go against you then you are finished. I always felt he had an extra dimension because of having worked at some of Europe’s biggest clubs – not many British managers have done that.
To the surprise of many, Newcastle United were relegated a couple of season’s back under the short guidance of Alan Shearer. Were you in favour of giving the star striker the managerial job?
Yes because for the owner it was a win-win situation. If Alan was a success, then great for everyone! But if he failed, fans would not be shouting for him as manager anymore which they were doing before he took over. The Fenway Sports Group did something similar with Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool.
Given your experience in broadcasting and the media, who has been your best interviewee and why?
I can tell you who the worst was and that was Eric Cantona, he never answered any of my questions with a straight response, he just rambled. As for the best then many but Sir Bobby Robson was always entertaining.
Newcastle had a remarkable season in the 2011/12 campaign, nearly qualifying for Europe’s elite competition. Things haven’t worked out quite like that this season. What went wrong?
First of all they punched above their weight last season, they were lucky that their strikers were firing on all cylinders. But this season I think European football and injuries has hampered them. To compete in two major campaigns you need a big squad with a good depth of quality and Newcastle don’t have that.
The last time Newcastle United made it into the Champions League group stage was in the 2002/03 season when they got an impressive victory over Juventus and a draw at the San Siro. How long before we can see the club back in the competition?
I know I was at those games!! It could be a while as the financial football field has changed a bit since then. Now owners are faced with a choice: a long slow build for the future or bankrupt the club for short term success. I think many are choosing the former option.
Newcastle’s best European success (besides the Intertoto Cup) was a semi-final showing in the UEFA Cup back in the 03/04 season. Same competition, new name and a very difficult side in Benfica. Can Newcastle top or equal their 03/04 European campaign?
Yes why not? I think they will give it a really good go, it is just so disappointing that injuries have hit some key players off late.
You have worked in the Middle East, South East Asia and communicated with fans from all over the Asian continent, what do you have to say about the football culture in the continent as compared to Europe?
When I first started broadcasting to this region 8 years ago I felt there was a bit of ambivalence to football certainly from the Indian subcontinent but oh boy has that now changed! The appetite for the game now is almost equal to that in Europe. Remember it is much harder for a football fan in this part of the world with late night kick-off times etc.
Countries like Singapore and the UAE (where you have worked) are constantly trying to improve the level of domestic and national team football. How far away are countries and clubs from Asia in posing a serious challenge at the International stage?
Certainly smaller countries like you have mentioned are still a long way from challenging the big boys but the likes of South Korea are much closer in competitiveness since they have been developing their footballing structures for over a decade, helped of course by a World Cup on home soil.
There are no English sides in the Champions League Quarter-Finals for the first time since 1995, back when a Blackburn side that included Alan Shearer failed to get through. Does this show the ‘fall’ of Premier League clubs?
This is a ridiculous debate because when it gets to knockout stages there is so much luck (or in the case of Man Utd- bad luck) – last year there was only one German team in the quarter finals does that mean that in one year German football has improved immeasurably? No! Arsenal were up against last years finalists (and may well get there again) and Manchester United were the better team over the two legs against Real Madrid.
Still early days but some fantastic sides left in the Champions League. Who in your opinion are the favourites to win the competition, and why?
I think it is one of the strongest quarter final line ups we have ever had in the UEFA Champions League and I will refer once again to that word- luck. There are the obvious candidates such as Real Madrid Barcelona and Bayern but the likes of Dortmund and Malaga have been so destructive in this campaign as well as a solid looking Juventus. So take your pick!
Finally, Budgie or Palmer, who is the better pundit?
You can follow Joe Morrison on twitter at @joefooty