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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Outside the Box – Football on TV: Confusion reigns at City as Coleman fluffs his lines

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Sqf Chris Pettitt

Have you played Football Manager 2012? You may wonder how a game brimming with data, facts and incalculable statistics comes to contain such a dearth of information. Well, in the early stages of the games development, some spotty oik is charged with the task of finding someone close to each of the 72 clubs in the English Football League (and indeed every continental league in the game) and once found, that person in turn pokes their nose into every little crevice of their respective team to gather any morsel of info they can and report back. It is an arduously turgid task that is necessary nonetheless to make complete the wonderful games we play.

I bring up this spectacularly tedious fact for two reasons. Firstly, to dazzle you with my own stunning ability to get 100 words into an article without writing anything remotely interesting. Secondly, and more importantly, it is to highlight how important thorough research is to the success of any endeavour. This is imperative when we consider the broadcasting merits of occasional Sky commentator Chris Coleman.

That’s right, after two tough days in the role Coleman took time out of his new Wales manager post, as well as fronting his Queen tribute band to commentate on the big Manchester City/Spurs game during Sky Super Sunday. And if there was an overriding theme throughout his stint, it was that he had so many holes in his knowledge of the players’ names on show that you wonder whether things are so bad in Greece’s economy that during his eight months in residence he completely lost his mind.

Of the 25 players appearing throughout Sunday’s title showdown, Coleman only referred to about two of them by the correct name, so we were treated to his thoughts on ‘Mario Bolocelli’ and his conduct, we were told that it was ‘Julian Lescott’ who bundled City’s second goal over the line, and that ‘David De Silva’ was pulling all the strings in midfield. Coleman’s tenuous and at times baffling grasp of some of the most famous names in our game was humorous enough after five minutes. It then began to irritate after 35 minutes, and by the 85th it was downright embarrassing. I kept imagining co-commentator Alan Parry rolling his eyes while jotting down obscene and phallic sketches with an arrow pointing at the Welshman.

Coleman’s persistent inability to recall even the simplest of names begs some very serious questions about the interview process he has just gone through for the Wales position. There were presumably dumfounded looks etched on to the faces of the Welsh FA when Coleman assured them that one of his first priorities was to write to Ryan Gigolo asking him to step out of retirement. I also heard that there has been a sneak peak at his first Wales tactics board and it highlighted key roles for Craig Bellman, Gareth Bates and captain Harry Ramsden.

The sheer multitude of misnomers started to make me think there must have been a rational explanation; perhaps Coleman wasn’t actually watching the match, he may have just been playing the first Pro Evolution Soccer game on the PlayStation, when licensing laws meant that player names were faintly altered to avoid copy write infringement, resulting in hilarious nom de plumes such as: ‘P.Once’ (Paul Ince), R. Filler (Robbie Fowler) and Gregs (Ryan Gigolo).

Whatever the reason for Coleman’s problem: stupidity, a bet, or plain old senility it fortunately didn’t detract from a truly pulsating game (well, second half) between Spurs and City. Bolocelli continued his audition for the leading role in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by kicking someone in the head, twice, before scoring the winning goal with such emotionless and unnerving assurance that I’m starting to believe he is in fact a sophisticated machine sent back through time to terminate Sir Alex Ferguson’s title challenge. It would certainly explain the frequent bouts of casual violence.

Speaking of Fergie’s United; their game against Arsenal later on Sunday was doomed to be an anti-climax after the breathless culmination at the Etihad Stadium and because Alan Smith knew everybody’s name in his match. In fact it wasn’t forgetting names that caused the biggest stir at the Emirates, it was Arsene Wenger remembering one – Arshavin. As the most pointless human being on Earth, Arshavin’s uselessness has reached Nick Clegg-esque levels and his only function now seems to be as a cue to initiate booing and hostility – much like Nick Clegg.

The Arsenal crowd were far from happy when Wenger chose to replace the exciting Oxlade-Chamberlain with Arshavin and once more the Russian failed to cover himself in glory as he was at fault for United’s winning goal. Still, I can’t help but think we were spared a great deal of blushing – think about what Chris Coleman could have done with ‘Arshavin’. 

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