THE World Cup - well that was quite fun wasn’t it? On the pitch Americans got football does not have to be played with helmets to great effect, Costa Rica showed there is more to their footballing zeitgeist than Paulo Wanchope and England lost the title of best national handwringers to Brazil.
As a tournament it was certainly the best World Cup since 1998 but sadly most of us were unable to get too close to said pitch. Thus left with little choice than to watch the most seductive TV in recent memory through the prism of folk who have the nation reaching for a collective mute button, in reference of course to BBC and ITV’s motley crew of pundits, commentators and reporters.
At this stage it should be pointed out they are not all bad at their job. In fact some are very good, Danny Murphy provides insight on commentary that only a former professional could - which is exactly why he is there. Thierry Henry made all those people who had forgotten why they loved him in the first place swoon again. It seems unfair to those less talented that the Frenchman can be so effortlessly cool, so good at his job and so good at a job he does for a bit of a jolly on the side, the knockout stages were poorer for his absence.
Alan Hanson’s swansong was also quite enjoyable, so was the right side of Rio Ferdinand’s face and the criminally under used Tim Vickery showed the vaule of real local knowledge. These were the few bright spots.
Otherwise things did not start well, Phil Neville lost the ability to talk as the BBC adopted the ‘he’s brother’s good so he must be alright’ method to appointing commentators, while Jonathan Pearce, the man known for his work on Robot Wars, had a melt down about modern technology, specifically the goal line stuff. Generally most games were accompanied by inflated level of hyperbole and cliche as commentators looked for their Clive Tyldesley 1999/Martin Tyler 2012 moments.
In the ITV studio or on the beach the leg squeezing was off the chart with Adrian Chiles and his lame dad flip flops heavily involved. Ian Wright’s shirt collection was impressive, his boreish chat less so and his insistence on calling Glen Hooddle, the man who left him out of the France 1998 squad, gaffer was painful.
Sadly ITV’s equivalent of Henry, Fabio Cannavaro, only offered the effortless factor from his BBC counterpart’s repetoire, but that might have more to do with his grasp of the language.
There were more audio-visual entertainers and lots more offenders on either side of the licence-fee divide but this column has a word limit.
Despite the regular pretence otherwise football really is quite simple and should be analysed as such. Offer us insight into the game from a professional’s perspective, avoid trying to create drama where none is required, talk in sentences rather than cliches and the people will be entertained. Too often the World Cup coverage was unable to match the standard of action on the pitch.