It takes something pretty special for the average soccer supporter to look forward to Monday nights.
With post-weekend blues settling in and the majority of games completed, the working week stands between another chance to sample some domestic action at the weekend. A tough slog indeed.
It’s what makes Monday Night Football—the Sky Sports show for the final games of the round—such a brilliant program. From this standpoint, there’s even a tinge of disappointment when there’s no Monday fixture and we’re deprived of the four-hour slot that makes the first day of the week a lot more tolerable.
The games themselves are never usually major clashes between two juggernauts, with the broadcasters naturally booking them for the prime-time weekend slots. But the level of analysis and exploration into the minutiae of the modern game makes it must-watch.
For those unfamiliar with the format, former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville and ex-Liverpool center-back Jamie Carragher flank presenter Ed Chamberlain. There’s roughly an hour of analysis from the weekend’s previous games to begin, the feature fixture takes focus for the next two-and-a-half hours and in the final 30 minutes sees the two former players answer viewers’ questions.
Often, for those who love to immerse themselves in every facet of this fascinating sport, it’s a disappointment when the game actually comes. That’s because Neville and Carragher both speak about soccer with such an infectious vim, with each offering a unique insight into today’s game on a week-by-week basis.
Neville is the more meticulous and articulate in his analysis; so often the former Red Devil will touch upon a new angle that leave’s viewers enlightened. Carragher is a little more raw, but mixes a clear football intellect with the type of points that opinionated bloke in the pub would make pre-match.
Neither will shy away from criticizing their former clubs or teammates either, as is often the case with a lot of pundits on the box, who clearly consider the manner in which throwaway quips can be pounced upon by the press and blown up into a story. Neville has been scathing of the Red Devils at times throughout the campaign, while Carragher’s assessments of Liverpool often seem to be a little more ruthless because he has a passion for the Merseyside club.
The statistics used to back up the points made is both insightful and relevant too. Again, the stuff is fresh, not just goals or assists, but facts and figures which add credence to arguments which are put forward.