Let`s be fair, at times, watching the various efforts of ITV and BBC in the punditry game at Euro 2012 has been far more interesting than some of the matches. Adrian Chiles may not be the most polished of presenters, a la Lynam, Coleman etc but by golly he is entertaining as he tries to MC Roy Keane etc and he is a true fan.
I`m not sure how immersed in the tournament the BBC guys can be ensconced in deepest Salford whilst Chiles and co at least have a genuine backdrop against which to pontificate. I also have to say that ITV has edged ahead of the corporation pundits because there is far less `same old same old` as we seem to be served up courtesy of our licence fee.
Love him or loathe him, and the latter group must be exceedingly larger than the former, Roy Keane at least pulls no punches. Jamie Carragher is the emerging `one for the future`, another Gary Neville methinks, with his incisive appraisal in previewing and reviewing what is served up in front of us. And, in Jim Beglin ITV have the best co-commentator/summariser.
Jim, whose first tantalising steps along the punditry route were taken alongside me at Prenton Park, says just enough to cover the point he is trying to make, if he can get a word in ahead of Messrs Dreary and Tyldesley. Not a subscriber to the school of `I love hearing the sound of my own voice` Jim achieves that careful balance between ex-pro, pundit and fan. His elevation to the number one rating, as far as I am concerned, was underlined during Ireland`s hammering by Spain. Jim was critical of Shay Given but later during the broadcast he amended his point to underline the goal-keeper`s errors were a rarity during his record-assembling total of 125 caps, very magnanimous to do so live on air to many millions of watching fans.
I think most armchair fans are sick and tired of commentary which is lazily based upon player identification, `Fred Smith to Jim Bloggs to Stefan Wherethellistheballski.` Give us on an opinion based upon the experience of playing or observing professional football, for years. Tell us how one team is edging ahead of the other in terms of goal threat, how one team is gradually extracting dominance in midfield or pressure is building towards one of the sides scoring. COMMENT because, after all, they are supposed to be commentators, as the great Ken Wolstenholme used to say.
Occasionally you get a comment that has you reaching for the remote to pause live TV simply because you cannot believe your ears and at this stage of 2012 the raspberry has to be in the possession of Martin Keown. As Ronaldo was single-handedly trying to force Portugal into the semi-finals Martin, trying eloquently to laud the Madrid player`s aerial prowess, said. u0093He has the leap of an NFL basketball playeru0094 ?
So as we reach the business end of Euro 2012 there`s still time for the BBC to catch up, still time for ITV to pull ahead and still time for someone else to wrench the aforementioned raspberry from one of the best defenders in Premier League history.
Special mention for a good friend who has a betting account and occasionally puts on a wager for me. I tried to contact him before the quarter finals to put on an accumulator, I think that`s what it`s called, naming my four semi-finalists; Portugal, Spain, Germany and England.
He never came back to me so the chance was gone.
I texted him today saying, after 1/1 I hope my four selections don`t come up, for the sake of our friendship.
He texted back, too late, `Shit, so do I`.