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Tuesday, 06 November 2012

Outside the Box – Football on TV: A feelgood Focus for Muamba is the highlight of the BBC’s wonky weekend of football

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As ever it was a big weekend in the Barclays Premier League. This after another extraordinary week in football with those League Cup games ending in rugby scores, referees accused of all kinds of ungodly crimes, Andrey Arshavin actually being of some use, and even Ashley Cole managing to go a whole week without upsetting anybody on Twitter. Yes, it truly was another unbelievable seven days in the ridiculously cartoonish world of professional football. And this of course meant we were all salivating like hungry dogs at the prospect of more; the only decision was where to start.

Well, Football Focus is always a cheery way to usher in the weekend’s footy action, never more so than this Saturday when “modern day medical miracle” Fabrice Muamba joined host Dan Walker for a lunchtime chinwag. Perhaps to balance the feelgood aura surrounding Muamba, they also asked gloom merchant and gargoyle lookalike Martin Keown too. It really was wonderful to see the beaming smile of the ex-Bolton star, and to hear that he was recently married and is feeling fit and well. You didn’t need to worry either if you’d missed the heart-warming story, as Muamba appeared on TV more over the past few days than the bloke from the Go Compare ads. After The Pride Of Britain Awards, there was his appearance on Football Focus followed by Goals On Sunday with a Five Live radio interview lobbed in for good measure; for heaven sake, the poor fella’s meant to be resting up isn’t he? He was even being hounded live on air on Football Focus as his phone started to ring in his pocket. I suspect it was Sky News asking him to front their 18-hour US Presidential coverage on Tuesday.

Elsewhere on FF, and in another attempt to counteract the positivity in the studio; we were treated to walking sun-lamp and annoyance catalyst Mark ‘Clem’ Clemmit, who took a few days off from bothering real footballers to have a go at some public servants instead. That’s right, he went along to everybody’s favourite pub side that isn’t actually a pub side, the Metropolitan Police who had reached Saturday’s FA Cup first round. Raising his patented pantomime guff to chronic levels for his tete-a-tete with the cops, Clem uttered almost any police-related pun you can think of, at times he was a like a Sun headline writer drunk off his tits at the Christmas party. He did however manage to reveal an exclusive, and rather shocking revelation in his report: the Met Police team is now largely made up of civilians! Is that allowed? Next you’ll be telling me that no one in Manchester City’s team is from Manchester!

Bookending the weekend’s football action with Football Focus is Sunday evening’s banter-fest Match Of The Day 2 which this week featured two of its staple pundits: Robbie Savage and the increasingly straggly Mark Lawrenson, whose bedraggled appearance is either a sign that he is trying to earn a place on The Rolling Stones’ new World Tour, or is just frantically running out of cash. Whatever the reason, his dusty hobo look certainly adds a touch of character to the MOTD2 sofa. He had lots to talk about this week too. The pulsating game at Anfield, while never hitting the heights of those legendary 4-3 encounters of the 90s, nevertheless provided us with lots of talking points. The most prominent being the performance of Luis Suarez, who is increasingly becoming football’s equivalent to Robbie Williams: a completely unpleasant tool of a man but one with which you look upon in unbounded admiration for their talent. His wondrous control and composure when taking his goal against Newcastle was a true touch of class and no matter what your views on his weekly antics, his supreme ability cannot be disputed.

Speaking of complete tools, Robbie Savage was the willing Lady to Lawrenson’s Tramp on the MOTD2 sofa. Carving out a little niche for himself as a pundit without anything relevant to say at all, Savage seems to be a popular boy at the BBC. There’s rarely an hour that goes by during the weekend when Savage isn’t either secreted away on the Red Button or yammering down a microphone at Five Live. Long time readers will know I have a chequered past with Savage after his sanity-busting exploits on Strictly Come Dancing last year; however I have a newfound respect for the Welsh star in his new guise as ‘hip and happening pundit’. Sure, he hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about. Sure his nasal voice grates on your ear drums like a spoken world album by Jamie Carragher. Sure the mere sight of his face leaves you pining for that video of him being clattered by a referee. But you know what, if Savage wasn’t on MOTD2 or Football Focus, he might just be on Sky Sports, and considering that is where most of our football viewing takes place, I’m infinitely grateful that the BBC seem to love him so much. Well done Auntie. - Football News & Transfers
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