We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.
Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.
In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.
As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”
During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.
The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.
BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.
Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.
If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.
The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?
Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.
Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.
ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.
When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.
Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.
Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”
Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.
The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.
According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”
Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.
ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.
Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.
Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.
Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?
Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”
If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin
Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third
Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.
I’m just as confused as you are
Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.
The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’
Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.
It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.