With all the investment in football TV coverage, why do we still have an inarticulate ‘expert’ ruining it?
The header just goes over.
“That was a chance.”
The 30-yard shot goes into the bottom left corner.
“And it rocketed into the bottom left corner from 30-yards out.”
Thank god for the football pundit/expert/co-commentator/barely intelligible neanderthal. No the screen didn’t go blank. No this isn’t radio. This is an ex-pro talking us through what we have just seen. Brilliant.
Sky Sports paid about 1.6 billion for the rights to show 115 premier league games. They film in 2D, 3D, HD. Each game takes about 150 people working in trucks, on cameras, on poor coffee and the depths of English winters. Murdoch’s monies have changed our game out of all recognition. Except for one place. That position up in the gantry next to the commentator. Usually occupied by someone who has spent 30 years in the game, has had thousands of training sessions, of whiteboard tactics, prozone stats and video tapes. It wouldn’t be remiss to believe they are, indeed, an expert.
And yet stick a microphone in front of their gob and they can spew out nothingness as if they were vomiting a football cliche quiche – balls flash, rocket, are overhit, are undercooked, areas are dangerous, set-pieces are threats, players do just enough, referees never give those, chances are wasted, half-chances, more than half-chances (but not, note full chances – perhaps 5/8ths chances?). And they’re the best. The rest, inaccurately and inarticulately, describe exactly what we can see with our own eyes.
With all the investment in the sport, dragged from a game barely seen to a game saturated, to slick cuts, slow-mos, 47 angles, why is it they can’t employ half-a-dozen people who can actually give us just a smidgen of insight? Or perish the thought, an opinion. Okay, the ball rocketed. But why? How did he strike it? What was the technique involved? Where should the center half have been, why wasn’t the keeper on his toes? Maybe, just maybe, our national game doesn’t have enough depth to even warrant closer examination – it is possible – if so, we don’t actually need a so-called expert now do we? Say something or say nothing. Or bring back Jimmy Hill. It may also be that 99% of those who have played football over the last 20 years are actually worse, and can only grunt and spit, but then, perhaps, look outside the WAG and Bentley gene pool. Plenty of journos with insight. NFL Monday Night football even went with a comedian, Dennis Miller. The best we have is Ray Wilkins.
Now, I hear you. Turn it off – or choose another commentary (oh, the wonders of modern technology). But the impact of this drivel is on what you hear at the football ground or the pub – it has this invidious influence on the level of insight by those loud, pie-munching experts to your right and left, who mimic this rubbish. It sets the bar pretty low. Intelligence and football can mix, sophisticated opinion can sit side-by-side with yobbish howls, often within seconds and from the same passionate fan. But it would be really good, seeing as we pay a chunk for the privilege, that the broadcasters went for a different tack and actually gave us more, something professional.
And no, that is not Gary Neville.