Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Match of the Day needs to change its Toon

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Under pressure: Alan Pardew
Under pressure: Alan Pardew

It was an interesting exchange on the weekend 'Match of the Day' show, when Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was asked about matters on Tyneside following their recent heavy defeats to Sunderland and Liverpool.

In giving his post-match assessment, Pardew added that he remained disappointed in some of the coverage afforded to his management by what he termed "local media in the north-east."

After that, the cameras went back to the television studios where Gary Lineker was perched opposite Alan Hanson and, would you believe it, Alan Shearer.

A great deal of people tune into this programme, and not all of them from Tyneside. But given how intriguing the Pardew remarks were, we thought we were in safe hands. Shearer is as Newcastle as brown ale and the Tyne bridge. As a man of his people, and a pub owner in the Toon, surely he would know precisely what the local media had said and would give us his take.

Instead, he sat there with his mouth clamped shut, preferring instead to parrot Hanson, muttering about 'the boy' getting up like 'a salmon at the back stick'. That's not even his fault, really. Lineker sat opposite him reading off the autocue, terrified to go off message for even one second.

I realise that lampooning Match of the Day figures comes with the ease of sweet theft from children.

But instead of offering anything in the way of journalistic integrity, or even a smidgen of insight, the three lads are content to sit there nodding at each other in open neck shirts, like an ill-advised stag-do of a second-time-round marriage.

And that's as boring as it sounds.