Having watched most of Euro 2008 spread out between the BBC and ITV I have come to the conclusion that both channels need a major shake up in the ways they cover sport. Both sides irritate people with different aspects of their coverage, for example they both need some new pundits and co-commentators in because the ones they have now aren’t doing the job. Along with that I am fed up of tuning into the BBC to watch football only for Jake Humphreys to be running around Vienna telling me about some film that was made there sixty years ago, what has that got to do with football? ITV are just as bad though, I understand they are a commercial station and as such adverts are their main source of revenue but do they really need to place them between the players walking out onto the pitch and the end of the national anthems, it is ridiculous.
As I mentioned earlier though the thing that annoys me the most is the pundits and co-commentators, let start with the BBC’s choice for Euro 2008. Firstly the good things, which consist of Alan Hansen and Martin O’Neill. Hansen is still in my eyes the best pundit on television, he has a good insight into the game and unlike most people I find what he says actually interesting and informative. O’Neill has impressed me as well, like Hansen I am interested in what he has to say about football because he is currently involved in the game and you always get the sense that he is giving it exactly as he sees it. That’s where the good bits end and the bad ones emerge starting with Mark Lawrenson who managed to get my back up a treat on Sunday evening during the Spain against Italy quarter-final. Why bother being a commentator if all you are going to do is moan about the game, yes it was boring but was there any need to reiterate that point over and over again. Perhaps in my naivety I thought co-commentators were supposed to analysis the game and provides some insight making the match interesting but instead Lawrenson was making things worse with his unhelpful comments, adding to my frustration with the game.
Why they insist on putting John Motson and Lawrenson together I will never know because they are the worst commentary combination going. I would advise you to push the red button and listen to Five Lives commentary which is usually excellent but they have decided to go off their heads and employ Steve McClaren and Graham Taylor as colour commentators. I wonder if they are starting a failed England manager collection, we should expect to see Glenn Hoddle join them soon. I can’t stand McClaren, his voice is so boring and monotonous that it could put insomniacs to sleep whilst he babbles on about how he tried to sign this player and that player when he was at Middlesborough as soon as the aforementioned player does something well.
Speaking of monotonous voices we shall move on to Alan Shearer, a fantastic player but still one of the worst pundits I have ever seen. He revealed himself to be a massive hypocrite on Sunday evening after berating Italy for playing so defensively and claiming it was a “victory for football” when Spain had won despite spending the majority of the season on Match of the Day praising teams who did exactly the same thing against the likes of Arsenal to stop them playing football. There isn’t enough time to pick out all the faults with the BBC’s Euro 2008 coverage, Gary Lineker is another one, but I will finally return to my one about the ridiculous short videos they put on about nothing in particular. Does anyone else remember the star gazing man who was predicting France’s fortunes at the tournament or where Adrian Chiles had become so ‘stressed’ he had to see a psychiatrist because he was in the home land of Sigmund Freud. I still do not understand the reasoning behind these mini films and probably never will but please stop it.
Now onto ITV and it doesn’t really get any better here, the good aspects of their coverage would probably be Steve Rider who is actually a good presenter and holds the show together. They don’t have stupid videos about Sigmund Freud, instead going for the radical option of including bulletins about football in their football programme. Finally they have a couple of good commentators in Peter Drury and Clive Tyldesley, that’s not to say the BBC don’t have a decent collection themselves, I enjoy listening to Steve Wilson and Guy Mowbray who do a good job.
The problems for ITV begin when they decide to put David Pleat in the co-commentators chair. How this man was ever a successful manager I will never know because he is about as insightful as a baby’s pop-up box. During the Germany V Portugal game the commentator asked Pleat a question and he responded by saying: “yes, both teams are trying to pass the ball.” Now I may not be a football manager but isn’t that one of the key elements of the game? At this point I would have liked to have reached through my television screen and shaken him until he came out with something useful but I thought my arms would get sore before that miracle happened. Back in the studio it doesn’t get any better with poor Steve Rider having to try and hold an intelligent discussion with Andy Townsend who is still working out how to use the replay machine so he can illustrate his point. Alongside him could be anyone ITV can lay their hands on that is remotely involved with football, could be Gary Neville who still thinks his teenage moustache is cool and is probably more concerned with what sweets he can get from the canteen after the game. In fact I don’t know why ITV bother employing pundits because they have so many advert breaks that they can only get 30 seconds in before they cut to another advert telling me I need to become a driving instructor.
I do occasionally wish that Sky Sports were covering Euro 2008 but then I realise that the advert breaks are just as bad as ITV and I would have to watch Jamie Redknapp try a pronounce Russian names which would be more frustrating than a Rubik cube.
The only thing to do is sit back with your fingers in your ears and enjoy the football, place a cheeky bet to make it more interesting.
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