For so long, ITV has been the poor relation of football coverage. Cutting to adverts during crucial moments of matches; complete and comical graphics failure during a Champions League final; the continual employment of Clive Tyldesley. There may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon, however, even if it is just that Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira might vent their opprobrium for one another in the form of a few punches of Adrian Chiles’ face.
Adrian Chiles: ITV’s search for a winning anchorman for their football coverage has been long and chequered. Jim Athletics Rosenthal has sort of been around forever. Elton Welsby came, then went to Busman’s Holiday. Sir Matthew Of Orange [Lorenzo] followed. Then we we had some agressive host poaching from the BBC: first Bob Wilson, who turned out to be a bit dull. Soon after, Des Lynam, forever smeared with the tyre marks from the Tactics Truck. Even Steve “Chill” Rider couldn’t quite make it work; there was something about his easy manner that always seemed more at home on Grandstand.
Finally, apparently miffed at being given Fridays off from The One Show, Adrian Chiles left behind the comfort of the BBC sofa for the choppy waters of their commercial rivals. And it’s been downhill all the way since he arrived.
His everyman, matey style and staunch face worked well on MOTD2; tucked away on Sunday evenings, it didn’t feel like it needed to compete with the flagship Saturday night show. He brought a faux-gallows humour, derived from decades of following the Baggies in the lower divisions. On ITV though, he just sounds like a smug tosser. Hair-tearingly jingoistic during European club football and Internationals (i.e. the sum total of all ITV’s football output), he even thinks to speak on behalf of the nation when criticising former England managers for being foreign. Foreign!
The problem is, all the things that made him good on the BBC make him really bad on ITV, and being constantly interrupted by ad breaks means he can’t get a decent flow going or any worthwhile dialogue from his guests. The cycle continues. He joins the long list of BBC presenters who just couldn’t make it work on ITV.
FifPro Pundit Rating: 2/10
Most likely to advertise: The Big Issue
Gareth Southgate: A worthy centre-back. A poor manager. His punditry lies somewhere in the middle. He always has the awkward air of a GCSE Business Studies teacher being interviewed on Parkinson. Benefits from being able to at least form coherent sentences and likes to have a stab at the tactical stuff. One feels there’s a good sense of humour buried somewhere in there, but it doesn’t sit well with Chiles’s obvious gags and droll observations of odd looking people in the crowd, so he becomes entrenched in a form analytical limbo. Could benefit from getting a bit lagered up before each game.
Patrick Vieira: His history with Roy Keane should lead to a few awkward moments of silence if they disagree about something, and though he lacks the charisma of BBC’s imported talent, hopefully his prescence will intimidate Chiles into being less of a douche. He will bring a Gallic Shrug to the studio, hindering ITV’s attempts to wake us from the simultaneous coma and fit of rage their coverage induces.
FifPro Pundit rating: TBA (Provisional: 5/10)
Most likely to advertise: [shrug]
Roy Keane: His intimidating stare and aura of genuinely not enjoying being on the TV make him a welcome addition to any football panel, though it’s important not to forget he was probably the nastiest player of the last 30 years. Just as he’s made a salient point, I sometimes catch myself thinking, “This guy deliberately ended someone’s career. How can I agree with him about anything?” He’s got a load of those witty fridge magnets at home that say: “You don’t have to be a callous bastard to be an effective midfield enforcer…but it helps!!” Lord Ferg bought him one every year for Christmas. Also, I heard a rumour that he wanks his dogs, but it’s probably not true.
FifPro Pundit rating: 6/10
Most likely to advertise: Ronseal quick drying woodstain
Jamie Carragher: Very much the wildcard option, ITV’s studio is really going for that “hard bastard” feel this year. I’ve heard his punditry in the past, and it was as you’d expect, really: quite difficult to understand, but fettered with cliches about “spirit” and so on. However I’m slightly worried that he might try to kill me, so I’ve a feeling he’s going to surprise everyone and be the best pundit in the world ever.
FifPro Pundit rating: 11/10
Most likely to advertise: Shin pads. For his opponents.
Gordon Strachan: Wee Gordo is the figurative “safe pair of hands”. Adrian Chiles actually owes a lot to WGS, their formative bantering on early MOTD2 forming the the bedrock on which Chiles built his, er…empire? Well. Brings a different kind of Scottishness than Hansen on the other side, he is pithy and brisk, and more importantly, red-haired (just about), flying the flag for the most oppressed section of modern society. Can be a little over-cynical at times, but at least it opposes Chiles’s “Why can’t we all just get along?” lovey-ness.
FifPro Pundit rating: 8/10
Most likely to advertise: Just for men (Grampian region only)
Roberto Martinez: Always sounds like a man who has just emerged from a 6-hour interrogation with the CIA, you feel he’s using the time watching games to scout for potential recruits rather than anything else. His habit of looking into the middle distance during sentences, pausing briefly, then staring into the eyes of the host whilst finishing each sentence like a question is an interesting quirk. Someone needs to tell him there isn’t anyone behind him holding a gun to his head so he can relax a bit.
FifPro Pundit rating: 6.5/10
Most likely to advertise: Regaine
FifPro Commentator rating: 0/10
Most likely to advertise: How amazing the BBC is. Inadvertently.