Johnny & Al's Last Word On Olympics/TV

We've heard all the talk about whether footballers and fans can learn from the Olympics, but what bout the broadcasters? Erm, no - it's same old, same old at ITV...

Last Updated: 16/08/12 at 16:13 Post Comment

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We can already feel the creeping damp of Autumn. Adrian Chiles' lugubrious jowls and his distracted I'm-listening-to-someone-talking-in-my-ear eyes are peering out of our TV. This can mean only one thing: the football season has started on ITV.

So, stout trousers on, chaps, it's going to be a long ride. The troops are all lined up. Roy, Gareth and new boy Lee Dixon. All ducks in a row ready to tell us about England in their own inimitable style.

Roy scowling, perhaps cutting himself with a small piece of glass just out of view to keep the rage up, angry but cogent.

Gareth, well-ironed, keen, smelling of Imperial Leather, very polite and a credit to his parents and the school.

Lee frowning, mulling on defensive shapes while being ecstatically happy not to be sitting next to the Als any more.

The big question on media observers' (but no-one else's) lips was this: had the Olympics changed things? Would the good vibes spread to football, to England and to the presentation of the national sport? England manager Roy Hodgson was asked about it. Adrian pondered it. Roy dug the shard in a bit deeper.

"Can England's footballers draw any inspiration from the heroics of Team GB?" asked Adrian. Tom Cleverley was introduced to those unfamiliar, the latest great white hope to try passing the ball to a team-mate in the England midfield. He did quite well.

Can the Olympics make football better? Obviously, the answer is 'no'. The muted greys of the opening credits felt, well, grey after the 'we're all in this together' Technicolor of the Olympic graphics. Then again, that's a budget issue aside from anything else. The theme tune - 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' - plays but it's a weedy instrumental version and the big drum line and the vocals never kick in, a musical interpretation of the English football team.

The Italian national anthem was booed, out of a sense of protocol rather than any hostility. The stadium had acres of empty seats (maybe this is one thing football has learned from LOCOG). There was a witless advert from The Sun about 'banter'.

So, no. The Olympics has made no difference to ITV's football coverage, though we did feel Adrian was trying very hard to be positive about England at half-time and full-time; a role clearly at odds with his personality.

Well we had won and played half-decent football, so that wasn't necessarily inappropriate. And ITV does like to focus on the things England do well, however small or brief those things might sometimes be.

Clive Tyldesley is a serial offender in this regard, forever declaring the simplest of skills to be an illustration of awe-inspiring brilliance. Thus Jermain Defoe's goal; a good strike scored in most part due to the keeper's chocolate wrists, was a world-beater and Defoe all-but an England legend. But this is Clive's style and he ain't for changing now.

And anyway, a little bit too much positivity isn't the worst fault a man can have.

This is why Roy is there, to puncture such hyperbole.

"You wouldn't hang your hat on him," he says, sourly of Defoe afterwards, which is true as J-Dizzle is too small for that. You could possibly use him as a foot-rest, though, or possibly an occasional table.

"Could the keeper have done better? Yes," said the ever-rhetorical Andy Townsend, who sounded a bit downbeat and low-key throughout. We won't bore you with Olympics-related comparisons any more, but just compare and contrast the co-comms during the Olympics in any sport (apart from football, obviously). They were always pumped up, informed, engaged, excited, enthusiastic and colourful. A pleasure to hear. Any chance of football learning from that?

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

Alan has ghost-written a book for Premier League legend Ronnie Matthews. It is called 'I Kick Therefore I Am' and you can check it out here.

And read Johnny's book The Meat Fix' here or buy tickets to see him at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival here.

Follow Alan on Twitter here or Johnny here.

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