So bye, bye France. The writing was on the wall more or less from the very start of the tournament and last nights game would have been over much earlier had Luca Toni taken to the pitch with his boots on the right feet!
As it was much of my time was spent trying to think who Raymond Domenech reminded me of. The jury’s still out but I think it might be a “morph” of Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine. Older readers, can you imagine him being in the Goons? OK, please yourselves!
Many will say the match was spoilt as a spectacle because of Abidal’s sending off. However for me, as an armchair punter, more damage was done by the performance of John Motson.
Why does Motson feel the need to shout at me every time a player gets near the goal or shapes for a shot? If the game is boring there is something comforting about the nose of the crowd that often causes you to doze off into “semi slumber”. Of course a built in mechanism, honed over many years of watching football, kicks in every time a goal or a major incident happens causing you to automatically snap out of your trance. However, there is no chance of amassing any zzz’s with Motson.
Sadly last night there was no “get out” via the little red button icon thingy the BBC puts in the corner of the screen which enables you to “Mute Motty” in favour of crowd noise or the Five Live commentary. It seems that he and fellow BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce have gone in opposite directions. When he was younger Motty was less obtrusive whilst Pearce, during his Capital Gold years, was so loud and OTT that only one radio was needed in the street where we lived! In his BBC capacity Pearce’s performances are now more laid back, quieter, more restrained and as a consequence much more impressive whilst quite frankly Motty has turned up the volume and appears to be slowly going bonkers!
Next time Motty is commentating try this. Turn your back to screen and listen to what he says. Turn around when you think he’s telling you there’s a chance of a shot on goal. I bet you’ll find the ball no where near the penalty area or the player in a position where a shot is highly improbably. Motson also seems to have developed a unnecessary and annoying habit of stating the obvious and adding comment to action which is clearly evident to any viewer, with a even a rudimentary grounding in the game. For example if Henry has a shot and Buffon saves and don’t need to be told that Henry has had a shot and that Buffon has saved it thus preventing a goal!
Thankfully Motson’s “ardor” cooled when the Italians put the game out of sight via De Rossi’s free kick however, the following point is still valid to me. I believe commentators should be there to help the viewer via a well chosen, well timed comment here and there, telling us who is on the ball using one word (the surname of the player) and not many and by and large let the pictures speak for themselves. Less is often more? Constantly chattering over the action and bombarding us with uninteresting facts and stats like some over excitable anorak as Motson is prone to do or, trying to embellish the action via ill chosen, verbose Churchillesque oratory aka ITV’s Peter Drury, does not help or enhance the viewing experience. Nor is it appropriate to today’s footballing audience who, by and large, are considerably more sophisticated and knowledgeable than many commentators give them credit for.
Meanwhile back in the BBC studio and despite the suspicion that he has a voodoo doll of Rafa hidden behind his chair one had to feel sorry for Martin O’Neill. I always get the feeling that Hansen, Lineker and Shearer gang up on him or take the p*ss because he seems different. May be it’s because he’s gatecrashed their gang, formed by cosy Match of The Day winter nights together? This was underlined by the childish guffaws at Lineker’s silly, inane “Van De Fart” joke at the end of last night’s offering. In contrast O’Neill kept his head low and didn’t crack a smile. I couldn’t read his mind but surely he was thinking something along the lines of “di*kheads”?
It is O’Neill’s “differentness”, that is his attraction and because of this he is one pundit who is worth listening to. Not necessarily because what he says always makes sense but because he represents a contrast to Hansen and Shearer who by and large seem to be from the same school of punditry. Unlike his colleagues, he is actually a manager so perhaps comes to the debate with a different perspective?
O’Neill’s recent stints have been made all the more entertaining as since France’s defeat to Holland he has slowly begun to realise that his tip for the tournament were probably going to go home early. Nonetheless you had to admire his faith and optimism as he doggedly refused to give up on his chosen team, vainly and bravely swimming against the tide on opinion created by the rest of the studio and trying at every opportunity to find something positive to say about them! Even at half time last night with the French, one goal behind, down to ten men and with Ribery off injured, he still insisted there was hope although surely he was man in denial?
I guess one has to ask this. If he can still remain resolute when the Fat Lady is not so much singing as bellowing down his ear hole from two inches, what are Liverpool’s chances of prising Gareth Barry away from him?