Another Saturday night, another set of boring-but-expensive black shirts, unblinking eyes and clichés galore. Alexander Netherton brilliantly described it as like a venereal disease:
“Match of the Day is like herpes, there are periods of respite but you can never truly escape it,” he said before railing against the “barely sentient” Alan Shearer. This week’s instalment was even more wretched and gormless than usual.
It comes just a couple of weeks after the cretinous commentary we were treated to during Manchester Utd v Fulham. The commentator and then post-match summariser felt cause to mention on no fewer than four separate occasions Alex Ferguson ‘keeping an eye’ on the Grand National, which took place on the same day and in which Ferguson part-owned a runner.
Since he doesn’t speak to the BBC it’s fair to say they’ve got no idea whether or not he was informed about the progress of his horse in the National which took place while his side were playing in a reasonably important Premier League game.
But that didn’t stop Match of the Day speculating, again and again, that this might be what he was doing: they were in essence accusing him of following his hobby when his club might have expected his focus to be on the Match. And this with his bosses sat three seats back.
Four times MOTD accused him of being unprofessional with nothing that was broadcast or reported subsequently that backed this up whatsoever.
The BBC’s defence is that it was “common knowledge” that he had a horse in the National. That might be true, and it wouldn’t shock me if he did have commentary in his ear.
But suspicion based on what I’ve been told by the media about Ferguson, or the BBC’s assumptions based on the same, does not equate proof. That Ferguson had a phone with him as he sat in the stand during a touchline ban was not unique to Grand National day, nor to other managers experiencing similar touchline bans who use the phone presumably to harangue the assistant.
Sloppy, casual, and a good specific example of how MOTD’s standards has slipped in recent years from being reasonably perceptive and analytical to being boorish, slovenly, predictable pub-level commentary.