All change as scoreline moves position and Owen lasts the full 90 minutes
Zero out of 10 for early season upheaval as BT make their mark
Michael Owen and Steve McManaman in the BT Sport channel studio in London.
It was Charlie Darwin who once said that it wasn’t the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives, it was the one “most adaptable to change”. On that basis, then, the vast majority of English-Premier-League-loving telly-watchers are doomed to extinction, if the general reaction to BT’s changing of a time-honoured tradition is anything to go by.
Did you see what they’ve done? They’ve put the scoreline and match time at the bottom middle-ish-left of the screen, rather than where it’s been since Darwin was a boy: up top.
All summer we’d been promised revolutionary changes to how football on television would be broadcast, what with BT entering the fray, but for most, this was a step too far. With Michael Owen making his PL debut as a co-commentator for BT’s coverage of Liverpool v Stoke, it was easy enough to drift off occasionally, so when you woke with a start and speedily zoomed in on the top left of the screen to see if Stoke had equalised, there was nothing there. Nada.
0/10, then, for that upheaval, although those giving Owen a similar score were being too unkind – not least the targer who tweeted he “has about as much personality as a stale cheese toastie — still, a massive improvement on Mark Lawrenson. ” And need it be said, if you’d a euro for every time it was noted this was the first occasion Owen had lasted 90 minutes since 2005, you’d be able to buy Gareth Bale with enough change for his salary and win bonuses.
The only complaint, really, about Owen is that he seemed to think Liverpool v Stoke was on a par with, say, the 1974 World Cup final, and that Peter Crouch was Gerd Muller and Jordan Henderson the modern day equivalent of Johann Cruyff, so the lad will need to curb his enthusiasm a bit in the coming weeks.
Jamie Redknapp’s enthusiasm is, of course, uncurbable, although it was notable that while Owen had declared in all his pre-BT-debut chats that the show would be Top Gear-ish, it was in fact the new Saturday Night Football shindig on Sky, with Jamie and David Jones, that was closer to that ilk, surrounded as they were, on their lengthy curvy couch, by several men who, collectively, made loud grunting sounds as the show kicked off.
And that seems to be this season’s football telly thing, for both Sky and BT, interactiveness with chaps who believe they are gorillas, asking questions like “Jamie, what d’you fink Moysie will want from this game” – “I fink he’ll want to win it” – and the like.
Still, Sky have a weapon BT simply cannot match: Niall Quinn. Indeed, there were times yesterday during Crystal Palace v Spurs that you truly felt you were watching the 1974 World Cup final, although, early doors, Niall conceded there were signs Palace would struggle to adapt to the Premier League, noting their “eagerness to get rid of the ball doesn’t augur well for them”.
Well, no, but as their manager Ian Holloway told Sky before the game, “you talk to a mountain climber and if he’s too scared to let go and try and climb higher then you’re going to fall off, aren’t you?”
True enough, but Palace seemed to misinterpret their gaffer’s words of wisdom, reckoning letting go of the ball would get them to the summit. It didn’t, as it proved, yesterday at least, although Quinn couldn’t say enough for their gutsiness, not least about the fella who went down injured but “great to see him having a drink of water, that means he wants to carry on”.
Meanwhile, Alan Shearer, chief pundit on Match of the Day for the season openers (earth to the Beeb?) – was choking while trying to pronounce ‘Ricky van Wolfswinkel’, and back on Sky Glenn Hoddle was hyping Palace goal-getter Dwight Gayle, “what he ‘as, he sees the goal”.
In other words, apart from the score now being on the bottom of your screen, maybe not a whole lot has changed.
The English-Premier-League-loving telly-watchers might be a species, then, that will survive. But only if BT put the score and time back top left.