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Tuesday, 01 May 2012

Outside the Box – Football on TV: A bad week for some as United falter and the Olympics fail to inspire


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It ended with Liam Gallagher bopping along to his own record at the Etihad last night in the her-uge title showdown between the Manchester giants on Live Ford Monday Night Football. Basking in his own genius is probably a nightly ritual for Gallagher junior but what certainly hasn’t been a regular occurrence over recent times is Manchester City taking such a huge step to Championship glory. You can forgive Liam his over-exuberance upon his beloved City beating their near-neighbours (but not for inflicting his sub-Oasis pop plodders Beady Eye on the general public), and it was certainly hard not to get caught up in the ecstasy of the long-suffering City fans. Even former foes were lining up the platitudes.

“We all have our own clubs” - the words of a despondent Gary Neville after the enthralling, yet not particularly entertaining derby. I’ve been fairly critical of Gary Neville on Sky this season; partly because his obvious love for United occasionally creeps into his comments, and partly because it’s fun. However I do think Red Nev deserves a bucketload of credit for his magnanimous response to City’s win. He didn’t attempt to detract from the result; there was no bemoaning of refereeing decisions, no critique of City’s style and no bootlicking of Fergie’s… erm, boots. No instead, Nev was, if anything, damning of United’s tactics and sense of adventure. He was especially perturbed by the lack of United penetration, and as he choked back burning tears of red, couldn’t believe that his former team failed to launch a single shot on target; something not experienced by a United team since Diego Forlan was leading the line.

It was a far more pedestrian affair earlier last week when the big football tournament of the coming summer was in the spotlight at the BBC and I don’t mean that pointless waste of time in Poland and Ukraine. The real big ticket for the post-season international jamboree is not Euro 2012, but instead the much-anticipated Olympic football tournament; or so Olympic head-honcho Seb Coe would have us believe. He was in attendance as the BBC broadcasted The 2012 Olympic Games Football Draw last Tuesday morning and rather predictably, Lord Coe used the event to remind us how he’s solely responsible for the games being here and of course to hock tickets.

Perhaps in a fitting precursor to the London games themselves, the coverage of the draw was beset with glitches from the start. A persistent sound problem (or, as he likes to be called, Garth Crooks) plagued the viewers throughout the entire hour and this was just one contributory factor to the devastatingly dour spectacle. Seriously, it was an event so unbelievably dry that I fear the week-long deluge of rain pouring down since was the Almighty’s attempts to liven things up a bit.

Gary Lineker was MCing the event and just as he spends each Saturday evening, tried his best to revive an ailing format by chucking in a couple of gags about Peter Crouch. Gary seemed to know he was flogging a bit of a dead horse from early on. He introduced each of the ‘special’ guests who were going to be helping with the draw with an increasing weariness as if each name he read cost him a little piece of his soul. So who were the assembled personalities ready to pull out Lineker’s balls? First up was Robbie Savage – fair enough I suppose, Sav is now contractually obliged to appear on every BBC programme except Flog It. Next up bizarrely enough was Mel C, whose sole qualification seemed to be that she was the ‘sporty’ one in some non-descript boyband from the 90s. Wait, what? The Spice Girls? Ok. Joining the heavily made-up 90s feminist icon… and Mel C; was Kevin Gallagher (presumably to try and get the Scots on board), England Women’s football star Kelly Smith and Ronaldo – no, not that one, the fat Brazilian one.

They did their best to muddle through the draws trying not to look confused and pretending to be excited. As it turned out, they did a decent job for Engla… sorry Great Britain in the draw. The men were paired with Senegal, Uruguay and UAE, whilst the women will slug it out with New Zealand, Cameroon and Brazil. Despite the paint-drying levels of grimness this draw put me through, and the crushing apathy I feel for the London games in general; I am actually incredibly excited about the thought of the Team GB football alliance. And not just because of the possibility of seeing Stuart Pearce go mental at Craig Bellamy. For years, I have fancifully yearned of seeing the home nations’ top stars (and maybe Darren Fletcher) lining up for a United Britain. Just think how great it might have been to see Giggs, Keane and Beckham playing alongside one another. Oh wait: that one doesn’t really work does it? Erm, ok; let’s try Bellamy, Gerrard and Charlie Adam. No, we’ve seen that too. Screw it, why are we bothering entering a team at all, let’s just concentrate on Euro 2012 and Woy the Wonder. Come on England!

 

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