Arlo White is a familiar voice to Premier League fans, particularly in the United States where he is the lead commentator for NBC. Arlo will be commentating on Liverpool’s trophy lift on Wednesday, which he says will be much about Jordan Henderson.
Firstly, what’s it like commentating at Anfield?
The new Main Stand has been a game-changer for Liverpool, not least getting over 50,000 fans in the ground but for broadcasters the view is astonishing.
For the last two seasons, obviously, the mood, the noise and the energy inside the stadium has been absolutely sensational.
The place has been absolutely rocking under Jurgen and the success the team has had.
Behind closed doors, it’s obviously very different.
Commentating I tend to get the fake crowd noise and crank it right up because I think that’s how the majority of people are watching the games, which means you have something to pitch your voice against.
There’s often been times, the Crystal Palace game being one of them, that once you take the headphones off you realise it’s silent but you feel like you’ve been in a proper game for the last 90 minutes.
What’s it like to interview Jurgen?
I look back on an interview I did with him December last season when you were top and going for the first title in 29 years, as it was then, and you’re in great form.
And he’s just a fascinating bloke to sit down and talk to. I think in every interview he gives his all, everything he has to give. He will answer questions as honestly as he can, very rarely rolls his eyes at a point being made.
And I said to him, ‘does Liverpool’s past, at the point you hadn’t won anything, intimidate you? The fact that Sir Kenny is around the club a lot, Rushy, the old legends are still there’ – very positive as they are fully behind everything Liverpool do, but it is a reminder of the glory days.
And he said, ‘nope. We’re looking forward to removing the backpack of history from the players’ and I just thought that was such a brilliant phrase.
He said players walked around with this backpack feeling like they were weighed down by it and were not good enough for Liverpool.
So for him to take that entire institution on his back through sheer strength of personality, through his charisma, knowledge, intelligence and to convince everybody to join him I think is the most impressive aspect of Jurgen.
Whenever he speaks, you listen. He’s just that sort of fella.
Also, he said the F-word live on NBC after the 4-3 against Man City and I saw my career flash in front of my eyes but we all got away with it I think!
And what about the players? You’ve interviewed Virgil and Mo, among others…
Virgil has such a calm, reassuring aura about him that he is as he plays. It all happens at his pace and the pace is seemingly gentle and easy but you realise you’re under his spell to a degree.
You’re still asking your Qs but he’s got that laid back style to him, he’s very intelligent and just a pleasure to be around.
Mo is slightly more energetic and he’s up for a laugh. I remember saying something about the goals he scored and assists from Trent and Robbo and he said ‘I can still get more’ and he looked into the camera and said to Trent, ‘I want more assists from you, you’ve got to pass me the ball more.’
I just thought these guys are so comfortable in their own skin and that is largely their own personalities and that’s why they’ve been recruited as well as being fantastic football players.
But it’s also the Jurgen influence and the whole ethos at Melwood. Everyone feels comfortable, everyone is intelligent and no one feels like they’re trying to be caught out by interviewers, none of them avoid a question, they always give you as good of an answer as they possibly can.
And they all just seem very very happy, content, challenged and they’re all enjoying it – and that’s what shines through when you talk to Jurgen, Virgil or Mohamed.
They really are fantastic guys to interview.
You’ll be commentating on the trophy presentation on Wednesday, how will that be without fans in the stadium?
Football will never be the same without any fans and we are where we are for the time being and you’ve just got to make the best of this situation.
But, of course, Liverpool are in the situation of having not won it for 30 years that trophy is going to be lifted in front of 300 people, none of which are fans so it’s going to be odd.
The way it’s framed I’m sure there’s going to be confetti and it’s going to Jordan doing his little dance before lifting the trophy up, so that won’t be any different but, of course, the raucous crowd noise won’t be there, the lap of honour won’t be there I suppose and it is going to be strange.
So I will have a think about how I’m going to describe it.
I’m delighted for Jordan Henderson because there was a point, and I mentioned talking to Jurgen a couple of Decembers ago when Liverpool hadn’t won anything under him yet, and Jordan had taken over from Steven Gerrard – what a task that is to take the armband off a legend like that.
And I was fixated on this idea that, and I spoke to him about it, that he would have woken up on the morning of the League Cup final against City thinking is this the day I lift a trophy, the Europa League – is this a day I lift a trophy for Liverpool, then the Champions League – no, no and no.
To watch his development and to see him emerge as a leader, to get better as a player throughout out all of that and the period of doubt has been very very impressive. It will be the crowning glory for Jordan that night.
I asked him about it at the start of the season after having lifted the Champions League, he said, ‘sure, of course, you wonder when I’m actually going to get to do it’ and this will be the fourth time in about a year!
So I think a lot of my view of that night is going to be funnelled through Jordan Henderson’s experience, before obviously the wider point which is Liverpool’s first title in 30 years.
Do you think that the manner of the end of this season, without fans, will provide the Liverpool squad with the motivation to win it again next season and be able to have a double celebration?
With any team that has achieved success, it’s how you motivate yourself to keep on achieving.
I spoke to Pep Guardiola earlier this week and he sensed after two titles in a row and winning eight out of nine trophies, including the Community Shield, that he sensed perhaps his team didn’t want it as much this season.
You have to find you motivation wherever it may be. And the motivation next season I think will be let’s do it and let’s lift the trophy in front of over 50,000 at Anfield and give the fans the day that they were denied a year ago and a day that they deserve.
You’ve also interviewed Pep Guardiola, how do you see the Liverpool – Man City rival in the next couple of years?
Pep will come again if he stays a little bit longer and I think it’s like Federer vs. Nadal – these modern sporting rivalries are so intense that they are getting the best out of each other.
Pep said to me this week when he arrived 85/86 points would have been enough to win the title, now you need 100. It’s ridiculous but that’s how they’re pushing each other.
But Liverpool are in a very, very strong position and I wouldn’t want to be any other manager other than Jurgen Klopp with the players he’s got, the mood at the club, everything is in place to be successful but it’s very difficult in the Premier League to dominate every season.