So we have the findings that I got from watching the recent friendlies featuring England. Those are not the only lessons I learnt, however.
The other major lesson I learned from the exercise was that ITV’s coverage of football continues to be dire. I mean dire. I can just about take Jon Champion or Peter Drury as commentators, their Five Live stint and their overall professionalism makes them bearable. That is about it in terms of quality. Clive Tyldesley is not a great commentator. He is the poor man’s John Murray – yeah I said it – he is the poor man’s equivalent of the fourth choice commentator for Five Live (with the greatest of respect to John Murray). Even the poor man wants an upgrade. I know Clive does his best and is in his position because of his efforts, but really he is not in the same league as John Motson or his predecessor Brian Moore. He’s not as good as Martin Tyler or Jonathan Pearce.
It gets worse. In men like Jim Beglin and Andy Townsend it’s as though ITV have deliberately plumbed the depths of football media mediocrity and found any mouthpiece who has kicked a football and can talk coherently for over a minute at a time. The bitterness at Mourinho in the Champions League final was shocking. Some of the ‘insights’ they offer is truly baffling and appears to be set to highlight more problems than solutions. Gareth Southgate? Seriously? Perennial underachiever (or in the light of his actual career perhaps overachiever). Perhaps its fitting that a man of such mediocrity is a part of such a poor presentation for such a beautiful game.
As for Adrian Chiles replacing Steve Rider, Chiles is hardly an acquisition of the likes of Des Lynam back in the day. It’s hardly the coup of the century. Presenters are usually as good as their surroundings and it’s already evident that the environment he enjoyed at MOTD2 could not be more different than the dross he has to deal with on the other side. All the best to him, obviously, and I’m sure his bank balance will reflect that ‘best’ but it is going to be tough for the guy.
I was running a joke with my brother yesterday that when it comes to television coverage of football I’d go with BBC, Sky Sports, ESPN, Eurosport, Bravo, Channel 4, Channel 5 (yeah, even C5), Boomerang, National Geographic, Cbeebies, TBN, MTV, True Movies and The Adult Channel before I’d rate ITV’s coverage of football. OK maybe one or two of those may not be as good as enduring the punditry of Andy Townsend, but you get my point.
To summarise, the football’s on ITV, so to watch the football I have to watch ITV, but I don’t have to enjoy it and it will be a pleasant surprise knowing the ‘quality’ on offer if I do.