I have watched every World Cup final since 1966 on the BBC, but this year sadly I have switched my allegiance to ITV. Admittedly Clive Tinsley is no better than Guy Mowbray when it comes to the actual commentary on the games but where ITV are much better now is when it comes to pre and post-match analysis,where they are now miles ahead.
You and I may long for a simpler time when commentators like Ken Wolsentholme or David Colman just talked about the match and nothing much else, back then the beauty of the pundit lay in the fact that they were just as knowledgeable as their modern day counterparts, but they they didn’t feel obliged to trot out the never ending stream of statistics that the modern day commentator seems obliged to churn out at every opportunity, but that is not what is really riling me, it’s the panellists that are.
For quite a while now I have thought that Gary Lineker sees presenting sport as an extension of his Walker’s crisp adverts, where, nothing is ever serious, it’s all just a bit of fun. However, for £1.7 million a year, the money he is being paid for one of the most lucrative jobs on TV, I require something a bit more professional. You always get the impression with Lineker that he sees himself as something of a national treasure and no matter what he does the punters will put up with it because it is good old Gary. That may well have been the case at one time but now he is starting to come across as a smug, supercilious prat, delighting in a schoolboy approach that is gleefully supported by (Shearer apart) a carefully picked bunch of sycophant panellists.
ITV is now presented in a much more professional manner by the fast improving Mark Pougatch, and their panellists (Ian Wright apart) are killing their counterparts on the Beeb. Whether or not you like Gary Neville, getting him on-board for the World Cup was a master stroke for ITV but, the real ace in their pack is Roy Keane. Hostile and aggressive with eyes of a Sicilian hit man, Keane tells it the way it is and woe betide anyone that is going question his assessment either of the game or the players he is watching. Unlike the fawning flattering Lineker, Keane is not interested in knowing crap like Jerome Boateng has 300 and odd pairs of shoes, he just want to talk football and so should Lineker, so be careful Gary, because although you may see yourself as the queen mother of punditry doesn’t mean that you are.