This study applies a discourse analytic lens to media interview communication by professional football managers in order to unpack issues related to language use, identity performance and impression management in this professional context. In particular, this study focuses on a case where attention was drawn to the discursive behaviour of a football manager (David Moyes) during his tenure as boss of Manchester United, a global and highly successful club, with some fans claiming his choices were contrary to (i.e. did not appropriately index) the identity of a Manchester United manager (Jackson, 2014; Stone, 2014a, 2014b). Drawing on a comparative fine-grained analysis of post-match media interviews given by David Moyes and two of his predecessors (Sir Alex Ferguson and Michael Phelan), I attempt to identify linguistic features that motivated such an assessment. The findings reveal Moyes' two predecessors oriented to more assertive language when speaking in post-match media interviews, suggesting that managers of clubs, particularly those with high expectations of success may need to strategically orient to linguistic choices that help them to construct strong and dominant identities. While this study contributes insights into the interactional management of impressions by professional football managers in the media, the broader theoretical contribution of this study is to illustrate the value of a social constructionist perspective on identity (Bucholtz & Hall, 2005a) as a theoretical tool for unpacking issues of impression management, due to its ability to examine complex associations between language use, social meaning and identity construction.
Journal of Pragmatics – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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