There is a lot of rubbish talked about football on television, I am well aware that I make my own regular contributions.
But the day that any television company finds a pundit or presenter or technical gizmo that provides more entertainment than the match action itself, he or she or it will really be earning their money. And the game will be in big trouble.
There is a healthy appetite among television professionals to continually freshen up their act and unveil different approaches to bringing football to your screens. Most of them can be filed under ‘Emperor’s new clothes’, but year by year better technology provides better pictures and analysis, and hopefully better enjoyment and understanding of how the game is played.
Familiarity should not be underrated as a television virtue, though. We can argue all we like as to why many more viewers watch the World Cup final on BBC than ITV, and many more watch the Champions League final on ITV than Sky.
Old habits die harder than you imagine in TV. Two years ago, my dear old dad (a Sky golf addict) inadvertently watched the Chelsea-United final on Sky and asked me next day if I had a cold. Most people just want to see the match.
With the greatest respect to many much admired friends at the Beeb, Peter Odemwingie and Darren Bent were the stars of ‘Match of the Day’ on Saturday.
I’ve read calls this week for the pundits to be given more time for analysis and even for a classic match from the video vaults to adorn the show. Another time, maybe. But ‘Match of the Day’ should do what it says on the tin. The action is the hook.
To harp on about Alan Shearer calling David Silva, David Villa is just silly. The greatest manager he ever served under rarely got a player’s name right and yet Sir Bobby Robson remains the most popular football figure of the modern era.
I got Jack Wilshere and Andrei Arshavin mixed up for the first 10 minutes at Arsenal last week. It happens. I think the issue of (the excellent) Andy Gray laughing off Dedryck Boyata’s cynical checks on Didier Drogba is a far more interesting debating point. When is the ‘professional view’ wrong?
Sound editorial values are important. I have a bee in my bonnet about a manager saying, ‘I haven’t seen the incident yet’ at 10:30 at night on MOD. Show him, then ask him. But the detail of the show must never get in the way of the moments that set the editorial agenda.
The best thing about football is the football. Gary and the boys all wish they were still playing. Their programme usually respects the importance of the action and remains true to its roots. Don’t fix what ain’t broken.