Football on the TV

Posted on June 12, 2012

Because of the monsoon season that is successfully wrecking our summer, I have had the consolation of watching every moment of the Euro 2012 competition so far, and until the England game, what a pleasure it has been to see the best players in the world lighting up a tournament that is so much higher in quality than the World Cup that features too many games featuring countries that have never played football before and have never won or even drawn a match until they played Scotland. Having seen so much coverage of the tournament already, I have also taken a lot of notice of the punditry and the commentary on ITV and BBC.

Let me state now that I hate the football on ITV, the continued employment or perennial cliché expert Andy Townsend, never ceases to amaze me and I will need fellow pundit and Frenchman, Patrick Viera, to translate what Jamie Carragher is trying to say. Carragher is in possession of the most annoying scouse accent I have ever come across, even surpassing the great Phil Thompson with his ability to make me want to put my right boot through the television. Meanwhile, Roy Keane has obviously been bought in to be uncompromisingly blunt and quietly gleeful at the ineptitude of the Irish, whilst Gareth ‘interesting’ Southgate is the supposed intellectual pragmatist who has the misfortune of having a similar face to the highly punch-able James Blunt. When I watch the ITV pundits, I can’t help thinking that it is a load of old nonsense that is heading down a one way street in to oblivion. The highlight of their coverage so far has to be perennial twat, Martin Tyler, saying before the France game…..”Agincourt, Waterloo, now Donetsk.”  Who on earth told him to say that? Or was it a moment of improvisation? I desperately need to know the answer to assess who needs sacking first.

The BBC has on their panel, the increasingly smug Gary Lineker, Lee Dixon, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson, with cameo appearances from Gordon Strachan and Harry “I like the boy” Redknapp. Because of his goal scoring heroics in the World Cups of ’86 and 1990 I will continue to forgive Gary Lineker for everything, however, he really should speak to his producer about the lines he is asked to deliver, as they are, to put it bluntly…. shit!  After the Ukraine v Sweden game (where Shevchenko scored twice) Dan Wilson, the likable pitch side commentator said he would be sharing a few pints of Obolon Beer (the Ukraine brew) with the locals, only for Lineker to correct him and say that it was now called Shevchenko beer before going a step further by stating at the end of the show that the Ukraine was now named The People’s Republic of Shevchenko. What on earth was he talking about? Once again I would like to know if this was written for him or whether it was a moment of misguided improvisation. If it was improvised, Gary should be very careful about not only renaming a national beer, but also a nation that has only been independent again since 1990. As much as I loved Lineker in his international pomp, I would have never dared to suggest that England should be renamed The People’s Republic of Lineker and I doubt any foreign commentators did either.

Another icon of the days when I deluded myself in to thinking that England might win something is Alan Shearer, a formidable striker, but unfortunately not a formidable pundit. Shearer’s favourite music artist is Phil Collins which is just about as a perfect fit as it can get as his punditry is inoffensive to a point, but desperately boring. Just like a Phil Collins album. However, just like a Phil Collins album, Shearer will eventually get under your skin and he does this to me by replacing the simple sentence “in my opinion” with “for me.”  He does it every time….“He’s made the run in the box Gary, he’s done the hard bit, but his finish has got to be better than that for me.” It’s not for you though Alan, it’s for his team, not unless he scores and lifts his shirt up saying “That’s For Alan Shearer.” Then you will have a valid point as it would have been for you. I think “For me” might well be a pundit’s virus and Shearer may have caught it whilst at a dinner party with Andy Townsend.

Among all the other nonsense like Alan Hansen saying at half time (with the score 0-0) the game was anyone’s to win, there has been segments of football on TV that have been both entertaining and enlightening. First up, Gordon Strachan, who I think is marvellous entertainment and should be in line for promotion from being a bit part at the BBC. His analogy of why the English/British players are so inadequate at keeping possession of a football was the best I have heard so far. He said that the reason was that by nature, we are always in a huge hurry, using a day out on a Spanish golf course as a classic example. “The Spanish take five an half hours play around golf whilst the British are trying to do it in three hours whilst shouting at the people in front to get a move on…..something in our culture makes us hurry everything we do, we can’t help it.” Not only was this funny, but it was also a brilliant summary of the general ineptitude and crash bang wallop attitude to football in England.

The second was the interview carried out with Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, an eighteen year old who clearly hasn’t been to the “Over the Moon school” to study the art of a the football cliché. When your brain is trained in to hearing words such as gaffer, end of the day and one hundred and ten per cent whilst the player scratches his face or plays with his ear, it is quite shock to hear such eloquence. Oxlaide-Chamberlain is the son of former England winger Mark Chamberlain who presumably had the money and sense to give his child the opportunities in education he never had himself. With all the money swilling around modern day football in the modern era, Oxlaide-Chamberlain is likely to be just one of a breed of footballer’s sons who has been educated fee paying schools. Quite what the ruling classes think about their schools getting invaded by footballers and Russian gangsters is anyone’s guess, but I find it all rather funny. Imagine when they all start breeding?

There may well be a time when the commentator is saying the following:

“Oooooh what a marvellous effort by Horatio Uranov-Beckham, beautifully set up by Crispin Gerrard”

In the background will be the dulcet tones of  Tristram Romanov-Shearer.

“He placed himself in a spiffingly fine position there, but he has to do jolly well better for me.”



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