Belfast Telegraph

Match of the Day calls in late with new boy Danny

By Billy Weir

And just when you thought it was safe to switch the telly back on safe in the knowledge that there couldn't be any more football on, then Match of the Day appeared.

It is now the Marmite of viewing among the football-watching fraternity. It has been in the cupboard for years, gathering dust, stagnating and when you are tempted to try it again, usually because it's late on Saturday night and you may be a little worse for wear, you decide to give it a go.

Don't get me wrong, I love highlights programmes. I was brought up on them. I hail from an era when the only live game you got during the season was the FA Cup Final.

Match of the Day and the Big Match were all you had and if you were very lucky some footy would creep onto Sportsnight between boxing and showjumping or the rarely spotted but treasured Granada Soccer Night that was smuggled over the Irish Sea with large quantities of Elton Welsby hidden inside food packages.

But in 2013 by 10.30pm on a Saturday if you haven't heard the results or know that Arsene Wenger is being booed, then you've been living in a Peruvian prison.

It doesn't stop Gary Lineker trying though, and he was as excited as Wayne Rooney being given his first Chelsea kit, as he invited us all in for the big kick-off – 10 hours after it had all started.

"It's been a long summer – Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Leigh Halfpenny, Chris Froome, Ian Bell et al, thank you for the distraction in the intermission," he began before not adding 'Johnny Foreigner, you took one helluva beating.'

"Match of the Day is back, with new faces, young pretenders, fierce rivalries and that's just in the studio," he continued, which was just a way of announcing that Danny Murphy had joined the team.

Other new things to note, include the team graphic before each game that looks to be upside down, unless Robin van Persie was in goal, while it's nice to see the graphics fella from Final Score has moved over from Belfast as I don't know who the three players were in the photos of Kagawa, Zaha and Fabio but they certainly weren't Kagawa, Zaha and Fabio.

Worryingly they have gone down the Twitter route, a penalty incident in the Arsenal v Aston Villa game bringing a 'was it a penalty?' caption on screen and inviting you to Tweet in. It turns out people thought it wasn't.

Alan Shearer said it was but as it had been scored seven hours earlier I think it'll stand.

Another old friend was back. Gary Neville may have retired but it's lovely to see his moustache continuing to play, now perched precariously on Gabby Agbonlahor's face, but no-one has offered to take on Mark Lawrenson's, although David Moyes has bid £12m just in case.

Danny, no longer half as Scouse as he used to be, showed some promise, even Shearer seemed to have a bit more to say for himself, and while Gary may not have Sarah Jane Mee's shapely knees, he has toned down the awful puns and daft statistics.

So, there's still a bit of life in the old dog yet, it may not have the loudest bark anymore but if it keeps quiet and doesn't beg for too much attention on Saturday night, it can stay.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph