Alan McManus believes the snooker community deserves a better reputation, writes Will Jennings.
The evergreen 49-year-old succumbed to a 10-5 defeat against MarkWilliams in his opening round match at the World Championship, having been the oldest player to appear at the Crucible since the great Steve Davis in 2010.
The current world No.53 first appeared in Sheffield 29 years ago but this was his first taste of the home of snooker behind closed doors, after the Government scrapped the pilot scheme to trial fans at sports events on Friday.
McManus is still thrilled the tournament is going ahead but hit out at ‘certain quarters’ who perceive the snooker world the wrong way.
“Sometimes snooker players and snooker people tend to get a bad rap from certain quarters - I’m taking about the press, refs, officials, backroom staff and the players,” McManus, who won the 1994 Masters, said.
“But they’re a sensible bunch - I’m quite sure 99 per cent of us over the last three or four months have been doing the correct things.
“Snooker people are a good bunch of people and there’s absolutely no reason why the tournament shouldn’t go ahead.
“In the venue, the same as at the qualifiers, it feels really safe and like everyone does the right thing.
“I can only speak about how I feel, but it feels pretty safe and we’re a good bunch of people, more so than how some other people have behaved in the last three or four months.
“I just think it’s brilliant the tournament’s going ahead and we’re showing the way forward.”
McManus embarked on a memorable run to the Crucible semi-finals on his last appearance in 2016 but was unable to emulate those heroics this year, as three-time world champion Williams won all six frames of Saturday’s session to progress to the last 16.
The two-time ranking event winner had gone into Saturday with a 5-4 lead after striking breaks of 105, 84 and 58 but was forced to watch world No.3 Williams hit 50, 79 and 59 from the chair and dash the Scot’s hopes.
Crucible from the back row this morning... pic.twitter.com/yMdBrZb0qG— Alan McManus (@alan_mcmanus) August 3, 2020
McManus has broadened his horizons as he reaches the twilight of his career and currently undertakes a range of media ventures covering snooker as a pundit.
And with Williams - who said he’d never retire after his first round win - set to play 2015 champion Stuart Bingham in the second round, McManus reckons the 22-time ranking event winner has what it takes to go all the way.
“We all know that Mark has got a great sense of how to construct a match - he’s going to be a threat and when he knuckles down properly and puts in his prep, he’s a match for anyone," he added.
“I just let myself down tonight - I didn’t play or put him under any pressure, and you can’t do that and you’re going to get punished.
“I’m a little disappointed but the correct guy won - I felt like I could have played a long time out there tonight and not won a frame.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.