Manchester City and Lyon leave the pundits with a thankless task
BBC boys deserve Bafta for Heroically Filling 40 Minutes When There Is Nothing to Say
Vincent Kompany of Manchester City lifts the FA Cup. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty
Dripping in silver they might be, but you’d almost have felt sorry for the women of Lyon and the men of Manchester City on Saturday – and you wouldn’t often have sympathy for these footballing behemoths. But so effortlessly did they win their respective cup finals, the aggregate score 10-1, the reaction come full-time was a little along the lines of “meh”. In both cases, after all, Goliath had annihilated David.
True, we’ve seen some cracking comebacks this footballing season, but the chances of Barcelona recovering from a 4-0 half-time deficit against the mighty French side in the Champions League final, or Watford finding six goals in the closing moments to take the FA Cup final to extra-time, were slim enough, both contests all but decided very early doors. Indeed, Lyon were already in control by the time some of us figured out how to find BT Sport Extra 3, a degree in computer science possibly required to locate it more speedily.
“Please wait,” said the screen for quite a lengthy period, when the menu was finally found, and “please wait” is, evidently, Lyon’s message to any teams with notions of toppling them.
“They just keep on churning out the victories,” said BT’s Adam Summerton, his commentary box sidekick Faye White coming quite close to sighing in agreement. “Churning,” of course, is harsh – it’s not Lyon’s fault they’re all-conquering, this being their fourth consecutive Champions League title and it being up to the rest to match their excellence.
Still, the desire for an occasional new name on the trophy, no matter the code, is always bottomlessly deep.
Are you listening, Manchester City?
New Bafta category
Before the game Gary Lineker was showing Alan Shearer and Ian Wright the Bafta award the BBC won for its coverage of England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden. Come the end of their coverage of Saturday’s final, they deserved another, in the category of Heroically Filling 40 Minutes of Airtime When There Is Literally Nothing to Talk About.
I mean, what do you say about Manchester City any more? Well, yes, you can debate financial fair play, dodgy dealings (“Innocent till proven guilty,” Gary interjected, lest the BBC be banned from the City of Manchester Stadium next season) and even dodgier owners, but if your focus is solely on football, it’s all been said. They’re half-decent, this team.
“It was almost a look of embarrassment from Pep, like he feels bad about what his team has done,” said co-commentator Jermaine Jenas when City made it 6-0, and he wasn’t wrong. Guardiola even inserted his face in his hands like he was beginning to find it all a bit mortifying.
A damp squib, then.
Some of us were sad enough to watch Australia’s A-League Grand Final on Sunday morning between Sydney FC and Perth Glory in the hope of finding a competitive football game over the weekend. And that we got, penalties needed to decide the contest after a 96-ish minute 0-0 draw, 96-ish minutes of our lives that are lost forever. And no matter how many Novenas we offer up, we’ll never get them back.
If the completed pass tally amounted to more than 2.1 per cent, then we will name our next budgie Reza Ghoochannejhad, he being the fella who netted the winning peno. And he being the fella who dropped a monster F-bomb while chatting live to Adam Peacock after the match. Adam almost soiled his pants.
Apart from that, the only highlights were: (1) the man in the crowd at the Optus Stadium in Perth enthusiastically waving a toilet seat in the air, as commentator Simon Hill explained to the befuddled that this was in honour of the Grand Final trophy, which looks like, well, a toilet seat; (2) the worst VAR decision you have ever seen, ruling out a perfectly fine Sydney goal (“VAR stands for ‘very average results’, said Simon); (3) our host Tara Rushton calling Mark Bosnich “Bozzo”; (4) the revelation that the stadium has more women’s toilets than men’s (781 to 748 – if you can’t pee it, you can’t be it); (5) co-commentator Andy Harper getting very excited when our Andy Keogh was being brought on as a sub – “Andy Kee-ho - he’s going to be the first cab off the rank!” – and then explaining why his penalty shoot-out effort was saved: “He was done by Redmayne’s old hot potato routine!”)
Call us parochial, but our hearts were broken for Andy Kee-ho. He never got to lift that toilet seat, Sydney, um, flushed with success.