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ESPN Find Magic Formula With Andy Gray & Derek Rae

Andy GraySoccer fans in the United States watching the Turkey against Czech Republic game were in for a double treat on Sunday. There was the incredible comeback from Turkey who found themselves two nil down but came back to win the match 3-2, which knocked the Czechs out of the tournament. But there was also the pleasure of experiencing ESPN commentator Derek Rae and co-commentator Andy Gray working together.

The two Scots were terrific showing a wonderful chemistry and rapport as if they had been working together for years.

Gray, especially, showed his brilliance and the value he adds to the coverage of matches. His forthright manner is so refreshing. For example, he called out Hamit Altintop for pretending to be injured so the ref would stop play and the Turkish right back could not be caught out of position. Gray also explained how the Turks had a tough time finding players to pass to in the middle of the park because of Czech Republic’s five man midfield, and how Turkey would need to resort to different tactics such as long balls up top. Within one minute of saying that, that’s exactly what Turkey did.

Gray is a perfect fit for ESPN and American soccer fans. The way that he’s so naturally enthusiastic about the games makes you want to watch them. Plus, I find myself listening to the commentating more closely. I’ve learned something in every match I’ve watched so far where Andy Gray has been co-commentating.

Rae meanwhile has been his usual self, which is a huge compliment. His knowledge of the facts and figures regarding players is impressive and he always adds credibility to ESPN’s coverage.

Derek Rae feels like such a natural fit alongside Andy Gray that you have to wonder whether Rae deserves the chance to move up the ladder and land a coveted spot with TWI to bring coverage of Premier League soccer to a worldwide audience. I’m sure Rae feels comfortable living in the United States, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s offered a bigger and better opportunity in the near future.

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  1. ALEX

    June 22, 2009 at 7:58 pm


  2. Pete

    July 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I thought Andy Gray was a treat to listen to and brought a soft-spoken expertise — coupled with Scottish charm — to the tournament. He did “favor” some teams, but only after their play seemed to warrant it. You would not tell he was “pro Spain” until near the very end, when their play clearly showed them the best team in the tournament. Ditto/vice versa his being “anti-Germany.” His critiques of the officials were pretty balanced and often amusing — as were many of his comments.
    I’d never heard him before (it was a treat that ESPN finally carried UEFA 2008) but really hope he’s around for more coverage here in the US.

  3. Joe

    July 1, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Andy Gray knows about soccer as much as Julie Foudy.

  4. john paul

    June 30, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Gray’s bias AGAINST both Germany and Italy in their respective matches with numerous inappropriate comments about the teams, individual players and referees was an embarrassment to responsible journalism and impartiality. He needs to go back to the hinterlands of Scotland.

  5. Anon lady

    June 29, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Iloved it , loved it, loved it! Keep Andy Gray.

  6. Anonymous

    June 29, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Andy Gray is an idiot.

  7. Rickstar

    June 26, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I Think Andy Gray & Derek Rae are a good pair when commenting FOOTBALL games and should do the Final

  8. Hudsonland

    June 23, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Can you give me just one example of an anti-German comment from him?

    For example, if you were claiming an anti-Italian bias then his ‘good luck Cesc’ comment would be a valid point, although having watched 120 minutes of anti-football who can blame him for wanting to avoid commentating on Italy in up to 2 more games?

    I can’t remember the earlier games but he seemed to be very clear that Germany were the better team against Portugal. I guess he just had the audacity to point out that Ballack fouled Ferreira for the second goal, which was … true.

    Gray has been calling the games as he sees them, and few neutrals would disagree with him.

  9. Footy Fan

    June 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    All I’m saying is that I don’t like Gray as a commentator. Half the stuff he says is not very comprehensible and definitely not neutral. He dislikes everything that is german and I’m not sure whether he likes the turks. I just don’t want to hear 90 minutes of that guy’s scum talk.

  10. Kartik

    June 23, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    good point Hudsonland. I hate the Mexican nat’l team, yet love mexico and mexican people.

  11. Hudsonland

    June 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I didn’t say Germans, I said Germany, by which I meant the German National Football Team. Hating Germany is fine and is in no way racist.

    Or are all USMNT fans who would claim to hate Mexico also racists?

  12. Kartik

    June 23, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Germans are an ethnic group and in fact Anglos, Scandinavians and many French are in fact “German” in lineage. I fancy myself as some of you know as an amateur historian of Roman times and the people who now populate much of Northern Europe are almost entirely derived from the Germanic nations of people. Hating Germany is not a duty. It’s not proper to “hate” anyone, particularly a nation whose own self guilt about its past has made an expression of German nationalism passe even in Germany! The Germans are some of scum of history no doubt, but hatred doesn’t solve anything or change history.

  13. Hudsonland

    June 23, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    A nation is not the same thing as a race. Hating Germany is a duty, not racism.

  14. Footy Fan

    June 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Gray hates Germany. I don’t wanna see that racist being involved in commenting the first half-final.

  15. tim

    June 22, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    andy gray okay but his knowledge of the laws of the game is lacking for someone who actually played the game. overall anyone is better than tommy smyth who is dreadful and can only criticize the play once he sees it in slow motion. he reminds me of elmer fudd. julie foudy is embarassingly inarticulate ,doesnt sound too smart, think she would have got it together after a few years. i like adrian healy and derek rae. the nimrods hosting in hartford just plain suck.

  16. Pingback: A: Andy Gray And Derek Rae | QuickNews

  17. nick s

    June 18, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Gray’s job with Sky in the UK is really built on analysis, and that’s the area that ESPN remains at its weakest: talking formations and marking and tactics. He might be tempted by the idea of playing ringer for tournaments that are BBC/ITV only, but ESPN might be better off paying a retainer to make HT and FT punditry less like filling dead air.

    He’s a polarising figure on Sky for Premier League fans, but what I’ve liked about his ESPN coverage is a refusal to condescend. The assumption he conveys is that you’re watching because you’re interested, and you deserve to get something out of the commentary.

  18. todd

    June 17, 2008 at 1:09 am

    @brian g…i think his explanations about why the game is so great, almost defending it is somewhat of an olive branch to americans. also he engages discussions about the united states (boston is a nice city, the nba finals and why he is rooting for LA) and overall i think he is doing something american soccer fans struggle with…not being elitist and snobby.

  19. eplnfl

    June 16, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I think it is fair to say at this point well done by ESPN. Bringing in Gray and joining him with Rae is a master stroke. I happen to find Tommy Smyth enjoyable but I would admit he maybe past his prime.

    The overall positive for ESPN is that in the opening round days they are giving 5 hours of prime soccer coverage to the American audience that they have not seen before. Even the last WC seen on ESPN/ABC was not as well covered and did not have as good and informative of a studio show.

    Also, ESPN after the end of Sundays action went to live coverage of the USA qualifier. It was quite a weekend for soccer on American TV, which started with the ESPN MLS coverage on Thursday night.

    Lets me thankful!

  20. brian g

    June 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I agree, Gray has been a treat to listen to, especially when compared with Tommy, who generally has little of substance or interest to say on any topic not involving onion bags and their state of bulged-ness. On top of his solid analysis, I love his enthusiasm (though he’s had some *fantastic* games to work with); feels like you’re hearing it from a real fan, not another ESPN talking head.

    @todd: How has Gray changed his shtick for an American audience? (Euro 2008 has been my first encounter with the man.)

  21. Pingback: Andy Gray has been a pleasure to watch at The Postmen // A Sports Blog // Chicago, IL.

  22. Anonymous

    June 16, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Its an interesting pairing, they are the best 2 for sure but Andy does talk over Derek a fair bit and then apologise – they will get better still I think and I am sure Tommy is none too thrilled to be relegated to the Switzerland type games…

  23. tampasoccer

    June 16, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Seconded, Gaffer. Gray went berserk in a typical fashion when Turkey tied the game with “when people ask me why millions love this game, play them this match and ask them to not get excited”. Priceless!!!
    Gray disagrees with a lot of the yellow cards and the foul calls so far. Not sure if I agree with him all the time, but there is no question that Rae and Gray make fantastic pair behind the mic and enhance the viewing pleasure.

  24. Kartik

    June 16, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I have to fault ESPN for not showing scores of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers that don’t involve the US but affect the US.

    I watched Mexico yesterday and they got too gift calls late in the second half to get their two goals one off a FK one off a PK.

    Second choice Sven as I call him has his work cut out for him. I’m not sure about all my comments about how much better the US is Mexico. Belize is ranked 172nd, 51 spots BELOW Barbados and they almost ended up in a nill nill draw with them. The US will still struggle to qualify but Mexico is going to flat out miss the World Cup unless Sven works wonders.

  25. todd

    June 15, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    its all coming together very well…and gray even changes himself a bit to be more appealing to americans. its working great!

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