And so, with grim inevitability the axe has fallen on stalwart cynic Mark Lawrenson, leaving a profound sadness amongst his few remaining advocates, of which I proudly include myself. But even Lawro’s most ardent backers would never have expected that dire wardrobe to have outlasted the regrettable pillars of Match Of The Day, Alan n’ Alan; console your grief by imagining his response to being told he was being substituted, which I’m guessing went along the lines of: “So?”
That Lawro is to “appear less” on MOTD is the most significant change made to the BBC’s football coverage ahead of the 2013/14 season. Additions of note are in short supply, and those that have been acquired cut a sorry sight, and indeed sound.
In place of Colin Murray, Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman will be bringing droves of everyman nothing – his bafflingly successful stock in trade – to the role of MOTD2 compere, a task he’ll presumably juggle with the 10 O’clock News and the Culture Show, before receiving the hallowed Top Gear money shot. Just exactly what indiscretion ‘Chappers’ or his agent caught BBC bigwigs in the act of committing one can only speculate, though given the corporation’s recent fall from grace certain suggestions spring readily to mind. I personally wouldn’t have given Chappers the gig for the simple reason that all the evidence suggests he’s spent an inordinate amount of time in the company of Robbie Savage, which one imagines is the mental equivalent of subjecting your body to a week of sunbathing in Chernobyl.
Anyway, ‘Chappers’ it is, and anyone hoping for a glimpse of the sort of progressive tactical mind and incisive questioning Rochdale’s favourite son will grant the MOTD2 audience can slake their curiosity with his ‘Heroes, Headbands and Hissy Fits’ tome (haven’t read it, apologies), which the BBC describes with concomitant reverence: “It is football as we know it, told from the heart” (again, sorry – could be seminal).
Chappers = from The North = from the heart.
‘As we know it’, though. We. You and me; inseparable lives, shared experience. ‘We’ love heroes. ‘We’ hate headbands. ‘We’ despise hissy fits; it’s football as we know it…
What, you don’t remember? Yeah you do, we met in The Queen’s Ankle last week. I was talking about how most of the so-called ‘reductions’ on yellow-stickered ready meals in Britain’s major supermarkets were actually, when all said and done, fairly negligible. No? Seriously? I don’t fucking believe this.
Turbo gob Ian Wright has had the honour of presenting the relentless torrent of vacuity that is 606 bestowed upon him – if the cap fits etc. I realise little needs to be said on this appointment, and one assumes the 5 live press officer will be spending the days up until the season frantically drafting a series of contingency letters, perhaps along the lines of ‘Ian Wright did not mean to cause offence when he a) [insert faux pas here], b) [insert faux pas here] or c) [insert faux pas here]’ and ‘Ian Wright would like to state that he is not in any way shape or form a [insert Bad Thing here]. How could he be? He has lots of [insert subject of prejudice relating to Bad Thing here] friends. He does, however, freely admit to being a fucking terrible human.’
Still, if you thought the BBC’s contempt for its audience was bad enough, console yourself with the fact that it doesn’t cost as much as BT’s offering, the tragedy-in-waiting that appears to have wasted no time in channelling Setanta’s long-departed spirit, and one that will hopefully only stretch to one season-long act.
I didn’t catch their coverage of the Emirates Cup, but a colleague who did said it was poor, and given that I once asked him whether it would be worth me wearing a jumper outside, and he said no you’ll be fine, and so I didn’t, and I was, I’m not going to start questioning his judgement now.
The BT roster is a Who’s Who of crap, fronted by Jake ‘what’s Wetherspoon’s?’ Humphrey, on whose sofa Rio Ferdinand + gaudy watch will presumably be reclining. Is there a less edifying 34-year-old on these Isles? (Rio, that is.) The fervour with which he courts publicity is nothing short of terrifying, and must hint at a deep malaise of character, and one that doesn’t appear to be subsiding with age. He takes any opportunity to align himself with the popular establishment, whether it be Manchester United, hip-hop or Twitter, in a forlorn attempt to achieve some sort of death-defying permanence.
There are rumours that Ferdinand, who has left West Ham United and Leeds in his career to date – and was clearly harbouring after a move to Chelsea a while back – has apparently fallen out with Wayne Rooney over the striker’s desire to leave the club, energies that in the modern era would be just as well spent slating people for drinking orange juice.
No one attempts to rewrite history quite like Rio, who now strives to evoke an urbane velvet-clad persona that lies wholly at odds with the corn-rowed fool mirroring himself on 50 Cent in the Noughties – I think he even started a label. He curries favour at Old Trafford by waxing lyrical about introverted characters such as Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs (this is excruciating by the way), before going on to making eponymous TV shows and establish himself as a brand in his own right, purging what’s left of his personality in the process. But perhaps you don’t find this reprehensible and think it takes all sorts to make a world. The sad thing is you’re right.
BT have unwittingly surrendered to Sky before the battle has begun, and kick off the Premier League season with Liverpool v Stoke, a fixture that unites football’s least and most self-aware institutions respectively, opposing qualities that both seem an equally fitting description of Ferdinand.