PETE ON THE BEAT: Premier League is back and with it the media circus
WE cannot claim that we weren’t warned. Those good people at Sky had spent a week shouting their “news” – The Premier League is back!
After the week off to sort out some of those minor matters like World Cup qualifiers we were invited to sit back and enjoy the highs, the lows and the bits in between from the world’s richest league.
Think what we had been missing during that week of internationals. Old friend Joe Mourinho going into a sulk after his team dropped their first points and conceded their first goals at Stoke. Such a fuss over the fact that two managers don’t get on and didn’t shake hands.
When quizzed about the snub of Mark Hughes, the Manchester United manager said: “I prefer not to answer your question because your question is a bad question. I don’t speak about stupid things. Talking about stupid things is for stupid people.”
That’s telling them, Jose.
Earlier we had the return of the wisdom of Sky’s top pundit Gary Neville.
It all revolved around the red card handed out by referee Jon Moss to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane at the Etihad. Not only did Gary think that the boot in the goalkeeper’s face was not deserving of a sending-off he got rather irate about it.
Mane, said the former Valencia manager, had his eye on the ball and had every right to go for it. Irrelevant, Gary, it was dangerous play.
Others – including Anfield legend Jamie Carragher – disagreed but he was having none of it. He even had a suggestion to counter it …
City’s Nicolas Otamendi was already on a yellow card so an obvious ploy was for Liverpool to goad him into another bookable offence and hey presto, it’s ten a side.
Neville has in the past condoned the art of cheating by diving in the box did not last long as a manager. Does he ever wonder why?
A day later Swansea’s Matt Ritchie escaped a similar high foot challenge with a yellow card, just one of the vagaries of football.
Maybe not everybody welcomed the return of the Premier League.
Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer could be forgiven if he felt the international break should have been extended.
Three games into his job at Selhurst Park and the axemen were already hanging around the Dutchman. No points, no goals and a trip to Burnley to come.
For his own sake I hope de Boer doesn’t believe anybody who tells him things can’t get any worse for his team.
They did. Not only did Palace gift Burnley the only goal of the game after just three minutes, they then went on to create a glut of chances to ease their new boss’s mind – and miss the lot!
Perhaps for de Boer’s sake it will soon be time for another international break.
TWO of sport’s most familiar voices are disappearing from the airwaves.
Henry “My Dear Old Thing” Blofeld has described his last red bus or hungry pigeon for devotees of Radio’s Test Match Special. The Lord’s crowd gave him a standing ovation as he stepped out of the commentary box for the last time at the end of his stint in the Third Test against the West Indies.
And football’s John Motson will hang up his mike alongside his famous sheepskin coat at the end of the season.
They have rattled up a joint total of 95 years behind the microphones (Blowers 45 and Motty 50) and have earned their retirement. Are they the last in a dying breed of sporting broadcasters?
There was a time when every sport had its own voice and we could name them like today’s young ones can name football managers or shirt sponsors.
At the risk of upsetting somebody the list was a Who’s Who of Sports Broadcasting and went something like:
Kenneth Wolstenholme (football), Bill McLaren (rugby union), Eddie Waring (rugby league), Dan Maskell (tennis), Henry Longhurst (golf) Peter O’Sullevan (horse racing) Ted Lowe (snooker), Raymond Glendenning and Harry Carpenter (boxing) and David Coleman (athletics).
And they all had their moments to match Wolstenholme’s “They think it’s all over”. There was Eddie’s “Up and Under” Maskell’s “Oh, I say!”, Ted Lowe’s “for those watching in black and white the green’s behind the pink” and David Coleman even had a Private Eye column named after him.
The retirement of Blowers and Motty will leave a space for a new voice but is it just an age thing to suggest that on Match of the Day they all sound the same?