Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Have Gary Linekar and Alan Hansen met their match?

There comes a time when you have to ask ‘do we really need Match of the Day anymore?’ (By the way, keep on your toes, there may be a theme running throughout this week’s column).

This is not a question I pose glibly or without considering the consequences of my actions, and with Walkers having pulled the plug on Gary Lineker’s burgeoning crisp-based comedy act, I don’t want to heap any more misery on him.

He’s been busy all summer making some lovely new titles for the opening to the show, only to turn up and find dull and duller still perched on the sofa opposite with nothing to say for themselves.

No such problems for Jonathan Pearce.

“After a week of hostile destruction on the streets of London, a celebration for the capital city with the return of Premier League football to QPR for the first time in 15 years,” he told us.

We’re lucky the game went ahead, this is a ‘boutique’ club after all, and I had visions of the QPR boss in a hoodie making off with some of Dorothy Perkins’ finest.

“After 40 years in the game Neil Warnock has approached the new season with the enthusiasm of a little boy on Christmas morning,” JP continued, and there were certainly gifts aplenty being dished out to Bolton.

Warnock, a man that would have been happy with a Satsuma in a sock, is clearly one to accentuate the positives, stating that ‘I thought we did well up to the point’. Indeed, about 3.00pm on Saturday.

Even worse when he went back to the dressing room for his citrus-based weapon it had gone, taken by one-man vigilante Joey Barton, a man determined to stamp out wrong-doing on the streets of London by fighting back.

Wronged by Song, something Jedward also seemed to get away with, Barton completely lost it, remonstrating with the fourth official who rightfully pointed that he’s like a eunuch’s trouser department — serving no function whatsoever.

Forced to take justice into his own hands, and fuelled by the Daily Express, he also re-introduced capital punishment with the short, sharp shock treatment for a stumbling Gervinho, and got a slap in the chops for his trouble.

All hell broke loose, but on the sidelines and Arsene Wenger was too busy watching people leave to see what happened, but thankfully the saintly Alan Shearer was in the studio to tell us how it was. Boringly.

Knocking about with a younger wife had helped Gary keep abreast of what’s going down so he helped keep us up to date with Barton’s latest outpourings.

“Barton’s been Tweeting, as they call it these days (aye lad, in my day all they had was a bag of potato crisps and they were happy). ‘Imagine if I’d stamped on Song, all the numpties would be out calling for a public execution’, Gary told us.

He then gleefully told us Barton added: “right now off to watch MOTD, it’s what Saturday nights are all about.”

Aww, he’s lovely, but I wonder if they’ll mention his Tweet next week posted after the show ended — ‘bad shirt, shoes and views from Shearer again. Sort it out slaphead.’ An excellent review.

So, do we need Match of the Day? Probably not, but we do need Warnock and Barton, to keep us entertained when the footy is rubbish.

Belfast Telegraph

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