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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Outside the Box – Football on TV: A more civilised way to talk about football perhaps, but it all comes down to Rooney’s gash in the end

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Any long time readers of this column will be acutely aware of my ill feelings towards the current football malaise we reside in: the international break. A fortnight long forced abstinence of domestic football with only a scattered group of international fixtures to keep us going. Mercifully some things don’t change in this vacuum though. Mark Lawrenson is still allowed on Football Focus to blindly muse about some rubbish or other; Soccer AM continues to recycle its steady repertoire of jokes from 1998, and Manish Bhasin’s Football League Show remains in place for those 17 regular viewers.

Another show still in place last week was Sky’s newest grown-up footy tête à tête The Footballers’ Football Show. Essentially a forum to peddle out some of the stellar names secreted in Sky’s ever-growing roster of pundits, TFFS is there for those mature football fans not seduced by the comic book hijinks of Soccer AM and the like. Each week, Ed Chamberlain’s number two Dave Jones invites a couple of football heavyweights (and sometimes Peter Reid) on to discuss the biggest talking points of the week. It’s a very stiff, proper affair and at times Jones looks as though he’s presenting some BAFTA style awards ceremony rather than a having chinwag with Ray Wilkins. I can’t stress the formality enough; TFFS really is the antithesis of rowdy shows like Soccer AM. Aside from the subject matter, there is a little common ground and fans of the Saturday morning knockabout may find the turgid discourse a real snooze and be itching to see a podgy half-naked bloke jump out of the cupboard and shout “boobs” or something.

This week’s edition featured veterans Wilkins and Glenn Hoddle, both considered wise soothsayers of the game, and happily both capable of talking completely out of their arses too. More interestingly though, they were joined by QPR Chief Exec Philip Beard, who was presumably invited on to explain away the 68 new signings the club have made in the last month. In this age of ceaseless conjecture and speculation, it is always refreshing to hear the thoughts of the people actually involved in the game, and despite the apparent ramshackle approach to the running of QPR, Beard seemed to speak a great deal of sense. Measured responses to all manner of probing questions from Jones, ranging from Mark Hughes’ future to the departure of nutjob Joey Barton, Beard proved to be more than an appealing addition to the week’s football punditry and the more football insiders we get in to balance the overblown hyperbole spouted by the raft of ex-pros still living in the eighties and the egocentric journos who consider themselves more vital to the game than the players, the better.

Elsewhere, ITV’s newest ex-pro living in the eighties, Lee Dixon, had his first taste of International coverage in Chiles’ house of guff at ITV on Friday for the World Cup Qualifier: Moldova v England. Way over there in Eastern Europe, huddled together with Chiles and Gareth Southgate in what can only be described as a ‘shed’, Dixon continued to be a breath of fresh air for ITV, largely because any time diverted away from Chiles’ spurious bleating and inane rhetoric should be considered a blessing.

As for the game, England continued their meticulously efficient improvement under Roy Hodgson as they comfortably dispatched an admittedly poor Moldovan outfit. Still, as the old adage goes, you can only beat what’s put out in front of you and Hodgson’s men certainly did that. It was a youthfully exuberant England lineup sprinkled ever so slightly with the odd venerable artiste such as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. There was also John Terry as well, but he got injured and had to go off so all’s well that ends well I suppose. But the young guns Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck promise much for the future of our national side, and with yesterday’s call up for Liverpool prospect Raheem Sterling, Hodgson seems sure that youth is the way forward.

So the first international break of the season has almost passed and the breathless pantomime of the Premier League will recommence this weekend. By then, England will have played and hopefully been victorious once more, the Footballers’ Football Show will have politely debated Wayne Rooney’s massive gash (or Coleen as I believe she likes to be known), and I will have been in all kinds of trouble for that whole ‘Coleen is gash’ comment I just made that actually doesn’t even make sense. Oh well. - Football News & Transfers

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Chris Pettitt



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