Due to circumstances, I watched large parts of both ‘Super Sunday’ games yesterday (3/2/13) and there was a few things that really stood out from Sky’s commentary – about how much they’re trying to build up what is going on to make it seem as if it is more exciting than it actually is.
• Aaron Lennon was running towards a ball on the touchline, and the commentator turned his run into an excitable ‘Can he make his delivery count? Yes, he can!’ Reading that (and, indeed, hearing it), you would imagine a cross fizzing across goal, perhaps being converted, perhaps not. You would not envisage a low ball that clipped tamely off the ankles of a defender and went for a corner. That is not making a delivery count in my book.
• Gareth Bale is an exciting player. It is though, perhaps, best to wait for him to do something before adopting a voice as if he has scored a goal of which Maradona would be proud. Sometimes he’s quite able to mooch around near the penalty area, and play neat passes with team-mates – not necessarily thrilling stuff. Moreover, his free-kicks do not all require a build-up as if he were the new Mihajlovic. • Lewis Holtby, having grown up playing football in Germany, will demonstrate a lot of that nation’s abilities in his game. Ability to pass the ball to a team-mate is, necessarily, one of them. It is unsurprising that he is able to find a team-mate with a pass. He has come from Schalke, not a pedal re-assembly clinic.
• Manchester City were playing Liverpool in February 2013. They were not the next game after Manchester City beat QPR to win last season’s Premiership in May 2012. We did not need to know that, in the QPR game, City were 2-1 down but came back to win. We didn’t need to know what the score was with 17 minutes to go. We didn’t need to hold a template of that game over every incident that occurred yesterday. Yesterday’s game – particularly the second half – was plenty good enough to stand on its own merits.
If the Premier League is exciting (and from the weekend’s evidence, it can be) then let it be exciting. Don’t spread previous excitement on top of every incident, as if you need to be able to contextualise everything in terms of other Premier League moments. Perhaps I found it particularly annoying because Aguero’s goal reminded me a great deal of one Thomas Müller scored for Bayern München earlier in the season which wasn’t mentioned while previous reference points were. Haven’t seen it? Its on YouTube; it’s a really good goal.
Thankfully, tonight we see a return to normality as Mad Dog’s Gillingham (their official name now) take on Wycombe Wanderers. I wonder if that game will be commentated entirely in the context of Wycombe’s 3-0 victory that sent Gillingham down to League 2 a few years back, or in terms of Wycombe’s last two televised games that saw them lose 6-0 and 0-6 to Huddersfield (football, not tennis). I suspect not. I suspect it will be a case of ‘Look at Player Y, he once played a cup game for a PREMIER LEAGUE SIDE’ or ‘Here’s Player X; his Uncle used to manage PREMIER LEAGUE SIDE’, which is something of a shame, because both clubs are strong enough to stand on their own as entities outside the Premier League.
Gillingham’s season is interesting enough in its own right – the re-acquisition of Cody McDonald being an obvious recent talking point – while Wycombe, for all their poor league position, are adjusting to life in a new division, without leading scorer Stuart Beavon, (who scored a glorious goal at the weekend for Preston) without manager Gary Waddock, who did a tremendous job there but with a collection of young players being blooded into their team.
There is, Sky, life outside the Premier League, and it is capable of appealing all of its own. If you get chance, watch Gillingham v. Wycombe tonight. It may well be an unexpected treat.