Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

The itv brain trust, transfer-gate and here comes windass
February 5, 2009, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

itv1. Bouncing Back with ITV

Something great happened last night: ITV royally screwed up its coverage of the biggest moment of the football season so far.

After 119 minutes of a tight-edged Merseyside derby  in the world’s oldest cup competition, the match was heading towards penalties.  With a minute to go, a ball is knocked into the Liverpool half, and then ITV’s feed cuts to a commercial.

Thousands of stressed scousers and millions of neutrals were bemused as to what was happening, and why they were watching an advert for TicTacs rather than the end of the game.  When that commercial was replaced by one with people fighting in a factory, most probably thought they had missed the full-time whistle and the match had already gone to penalties.

But it hadn’t finished, and it wouldn’t go to pens.

The audience was then thrust back into the game, and low and behold, Everton were celebrating their unexpected last minute winner.  I’m sure the Everton fans ‘watching’ on TV were scizopherenic between being delirious over grabbing the winner over their rivals, or whether they were disgusted at ITV for censoring that epic moment.

Now to call that disgrace a ‘great’ event must seem quite ridiculous, but to borrow from Commissioner Gordon from ‘The Dark Knight’, the darkest part of the night is before the dawn.

Ever since I can remember, people have criticised ITV’s football coverage, but this will hopefully be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ into forcing them into some real action to resolve the obvious problems in their sports coverage.

Much of the criticism comes from their obvious desire to offer a broad analysis of football to people who don’t really understand it, or care for it.  They are chasing the interest of the bored housewife rather than the husband who actually cares.

They don’t always show team line-ups, and almost all of their ‘highlights’ include nothing more than goals (and maybe one shot of somebody tripping over).  Their Champions League commentary is not only biased, but the commentators seem to know nothing about the foreign teams/players.  Naked players were shown live in the dressing room after the Histon-Leeds hame this season.  None of these things happen on the BBC or Sky (… or even the fledgling Setanta).

It is an institution perfectly summed up by the disturbing memory of Andy Townswend’s Tactics Truck.

However,up until now the problems have been shrugged off, with viewers just tutting ‘ah this isn’t as good as the BBC’.  Hopefully this shambles will bring about some institutional changes.

It really wouldn’t be very hard.  Replace Steve Ryder with James Richardson.  That’s an instantly inquantifiable increase in quality.

On Jimbo’s panel you could, shock horror, go back to employing proper journalists (any of the Guardian Podcast would provide infinitely more insight than the buffoons currently employed). And if you want to have footballers on the panel, and they certainly do have a role to play, why not pick oplayers who actually had some character rather than a line of grinning cliches.

Of course, if I was writing my blog back in the 1990s I would probably have predicted a similar revolution after Big Ron said ‘them things’ about Marcel Desailly.

But what should prove to ITV that now is the time to ring the changes comes from the full-time summary from the cretin who commentated on that Everton-Liverpool game.  As the teeange match-winner trotted off the pitch with his matchball, Clive Tyldsley announced “remember the name Dan Gosling – a name not even well known in his own household until tonight.”

Yup, the same Dan Gosling who was a first-teamer for Championship team Plymouth Argyle.  As featured every Sunday morning on ITV’s flagship football show all last season.

If even the commentators aren’t watching the product, something really needs to be done.  Just make James Richardson the Head of ITV Sport and give me a job on the panel (needless to say I’ll have the last laugh).

Arsene Gets His Arse Shaving

Arsene Gets His Arse Shaving

2. Oh God, Not Another Tevez

Here we go again!

Yup, another Premiership team have completed a mysterious signing of a foreign superstar in a deal that seems to be about as legitimate as a £30 note.

Andrei Arshavin has finally signed for Arsenal, after about 4 years of transfer rumours, and the move went right up until the end of the transfer window.  Actually it went until after the window shut, then it smashed the window, climbed back in and papered up the cracks with selotape.

Firstly, the transfer was done after the deadline finished.  When Arsenal eventually pip Aston Villa to 4th place (on the last day of the season after Villa players get food poisoning, a la Spurs in 2006), you can bet that Martin O’Neill will raise a stink about the legitimacy of Mr Arshavin’s registration at The Gunners.

Then will come the inquest, the preliminary hearings, the judicial hearings, the civil hearings and ultimately the coronary report.  It will be just like West Ham vs. Sheffield United vs. Carlos Tevez.  Being a football fan is starting to become like studying for a law degree.

“One Lord Deyning, there’s only one Lord Deyning”.

The other thing that really worries me about this transfer is that another Russian with controversial tax poilcies and ties to the Moscow Mob has arrived in England.  Now many of you may think that is xenophobic, but you have clearly not watched this (from 20 seconds onwards).

Abramovic… Arshavin… Pavlyuchenko… Teddy from Hang Time is gonna get ya!

Dean's Windy Ass

Dean's Windy Ass

3. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of League One!

Oh yes, this isone of the calender days in Leicester City’s first ever League One season – the day some celebs come to town!

Every Leicester fan has loved this year.  We have a good young team playing the best football ever seen at the Walkers Stadium (although to be honest that 8 year lineage hasn’t seen much good stuff).

However, there is still a bit of you that misses the thrill of playing against a big player.  Well this weekend we get that buzz of playing against a couple of strikers who are quite big professionally, but very big bodily.

Former top-flight fatties Lee Hughes and Dean Windass will waddle into the Walkersbowl for the top-of-the-table clash against sixth place Oldham Athletic, and Sky TV cameras will be there to see it all.

This match will be a great test for our youthful centre-backs.  If we end up playing in the Championship next year, we will be pitting our wits against players like Hughes and Windass – footballers who have played at the top level, but are now a little too fat/mental to grace the Premiership.  This will probably be the match to unleash Wayne Brown, a man who apparently claims that after he shaves at 9am he has a full beard by 5pm.

Kick off starts at 5.20pm, so I guess if nothing else we will see what time Browny gets up in the morning.  If he is clean shaven, he is a slovenly fellow who awakes from his slumber past mid-day.  Oh how his mother must blush as he bounds down those stairs in the mid-afternoon.  If he has a beard then he must have awoken at 6am for a brisk 6 mile jog before cutting logs for firewood etc.

Anyway, with regards to what’s happening on the pitch, us Leicester fans are confident going into every match nowadays.  It’s very surreal compared to years gone by, when I would be preparing my excuses on a Thursday rather than pondering when the centre backs wake up/shave.

If The Foxes win this weekend, we will be on 70 points, which last season was good enough to qualify for the play-offs.  With 16 games to go, the supporter’s club chairman today said we can still get promoted even if we’re on relegation form.

We’re really tempting an even bigger cock-up than ITV in the FA Cup, aren’t we…


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