In the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to hear some new voices as co-commentators on football coverage. There was Danny Mills, who was a surprise inclusion for the Manchester derby earlier this season. But more recently we’ve been hearing two personalities with more regularity: Steve McClaren and Gary Neville.
Both men carry a lot of weight from their previous accomplishments throughout their career. While Neville was a fantastic right back, he often was so full of himself and United that you wanted to see him fail, unless you were a United supporter. As a co-commentator, however, he has been a revelation. He’s intelligent, very listenable and often provides a very salient piece of insight into a game that’s being played. Perhaps his most famous quip thus far was how he described David Luiz as though “he was controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation.” How apt a description for such an erratic footballer.
While Neville has been a surprising delight, Steve McClaren has been tedious. His co-commentary position on Wednesday night’s Basel against Manchester United match was awful. He seemed to be acting like he was auditioning to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, continually pointing out what Manchester United was doing wrong. And in case we didn’t hear him the second or third time, he continued once more to say the same things over and over again.
Not only that, but McClaren didn’t add much insight other than stating the obvious. It’s no wonder that England didn’t so well under his guidance. If I had to listen to him pontificate like a school headmaster, I would be ready to do my head in.
Last, but not least, I want to point out one more thing about McClaren. To be fair, it’s something that I hate when any commentator does it, and Alan Parry (McClaren’s partner behind the mic was guilty of this too tonight). I hate it when a commentator calls a goal before it’s even happened. For example, Wayne Rooney had a couple of easy chances in front of goal to score. He missed all of them. But before the ball was even hit by Rooney, you had McClaren and Parry saying idiotic comments such as “Could this be their goal?,” “This could be one of them…” and “Wayne Rooney surely must score…”
If we were listening a radio commentary where we couldn’t see what was happening in the game, then those comments would be appropriate. But when we’re watching a television broadcast of a soccer game, Steve McClaren and Alan Parry (or anyone else for that matter) should never “kill” the goal before it’s even happened. Some people may see it as a commentator jinxing a goal. Others may see it as ruining the excitement, the rush of blood coursing through the body as we see a goal being scored, or the sense of disbelief that someone missed it. This was poor form by McClaren and Parry on a disappointing night for Manchester United. The best team won on the night, and United should have nothing to be ashamed of. If anyone should be ashamed, it should be McClaren and Parry for ruining our viewing experience.