I thank Steve McManaman for services to my stress levels.
His non-stop whining and whinging while he stated the bleeding obvious (often wrongly) during the live Everton v Arsenal match on Tuesday night finally forced me to watch football with the sound turned off.
I often watch snooker and tennis in this way, but I don’t recognise enough Premier League players to trust myself to follow the action accurately enough.
But it’s a risk I’m now willing to take. The likes of McManaman and Robbie Savage have made live football impossible to listen to without wanting to execute a two-footed lunge Gaby Zakuani-style at the TV. And I only bought a new television on Black Friday.
The whole football product on television is now beyond awful.
Barry Davies didn’t need a co-commentator to help him through a broadcast. He was in command of the English language, possessed a clever turn of phrase and knew the odd relevant verb.
Reading out a list of well-rehearsed facts like the current mob wasn’t his style. He, like me, probably wouldn’t care about Everton scoring the most headed goals between the 20th and 30th minutes in a game.
BT’s antidote to crap commentary is to throw more people at it. I did think Glenn Hoddle had been employed to translate McManaman’s drivel into English the other night, but no he was there to utter phrases on a par with ‘the boy done well there.’
Sky Sports are no better. Their main man Martin Tyler delivers a Sunday sermon each weekend on some piffling football story from earlier in the week and appears affronted to have to interrupt himself to try and describe the action unfolding in front of him.
Football highlights programmes are no better. Indeed they are even more frustrating to watch. It shouldn’t be difficult to get the balance right between action and punditry (it should be 95%-5% in my opinion, a bit like the possession stats in a Liverpool v Burnley match).
But no. Even the BBC’s flagship football programme Match of the Day is a disaster. Presenter Gary Lineker’s smugness is already legendary, his puns are pathetic and that grovelling interview he conducts with a bemused manager every week should be in the hands of a professional journalist.
Lineker is no Paxman is he? Heck, he’s not even Geoff Shreeves.
When MOTD dumped the peerless cynicism of Alan Hansen and the sheer misery of Mark Lawrenson I did hope it was to usher in a fresh action-led approach. But I was wrong again.
Surely the role of ‘experts’ is to explain incidents beyond the comprehension of the layman. But has anyone ever heard Danny Murphy or Jermaine Jenas say anything that made you think ‘I didn’t realise that?’ No me neither. All those red squiggles on my TV screen don’t impress me.
Alan Shearer is now the most articulate MOTD pundit.
An achievement akin to being the smartest dunce.