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Soccer Special from Sky Sports

sky sports Soccer Special from Sky SportsI had the rare fortune of watching Sky Sports’s coverage of the Champions League on Tuesday — not one of the matches they showed, but instead the coverage from the Sky Sports studio with presenter Rob McCaffrey on Gillette Soccer Special.

The show is identical in format to Gillette Soccer Saturday, their sister show. The concept is that as the live matches are playing, McCaffrey and his colleagues in the studio provide updates from all of the major matches of the day, as well as providing analysis and displaying the scores of the matches on a vidiprinter near the foot of the screen.

While the concept is sound, the execution of it is far from impressive. McCaffrey, just as David Bobin did recently, produces too many fake emotions as he pretends to get excited about certain developments at key matches. Instead of being himself, he verbally exagerates the excitement with Whooo’s and Ahhhh’s that get annoying extremely quickly.

Alongside McCaffrey in the studio were Paul Merson, Gordon McQueen, Mark McGhee and Matthew Le Tissier — each of them following one of the four Champions League matches from Tuesday via TV monitors that were hidden from view. Whenever any exciting moment happened in one of the matches, the TV camera would zoom in on the football analyst to hear what development had occured.

A perfect example of how the in-studio football analysts are handicapped by what they see was the Lille v Manchester United match. After United had scored their goal, Gordon McQueen couldn’t explain what was happening alongside the bench because all he could see was what the TV showed. If he had been at the stadium in the press box, he could have actually reported what was happening rather than relying on the TV feed.

Having had the chance now to watch both Soccer Saturday and Soccer Special, I have to say that I’m not very impressed by Sky’s coverage. Sure, both shows are live, which makes it more difficult to produce, but I expect more from Sky. The fact is that the show could be done on the radio or internet and you wouldn’t lose anything because you’re not seeing any worthwhile visuals other than the vidiprinter spitting out the names of the goalscorers as the ball hits the back of the net around Europe. Soccer Special and Soccer Saturday are just glorified versions of BBC’s Grandstand.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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