World Cup TV View: Gobsmacked Souness advises Roy Keane to keep quiet

Peter Collins reckons the Saudis will take it easy on the oil well drilling after historic win

Day Three and our first 10am World Cup opener, but while there could be no lovelier way to kick-start your Tuesday than watching Lionel Messi do his thing, those in the know weren’t anticipating any class of a competitive contest. “It’s damage limitation for the Saudis today,” said Graeme Souness.

Some time later.

“There won’t be an oil well drilled in Riyadh tonight after that result,” said Peter Collins.

See, that’s the beauty of football, sometimes mad things happen. While the bulk of its results might be forecastable, occasionally you get some that prove to be tales of the very unexpected.


All you could do, then, was send your thoughts and prayers to Sky News’ “artificial intelligence prediction model”, which has been using “match outcome probabilities” to tell us who is most likely to win the World Cup.

You’d be guessing that they hadn’t Salem Al-Dawsari down as a probable scorer of a winner for the Boys in Green against Argentina.

“I don’t want to get too excited about this,” said Sky’s data and forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire earlier in the morning, “but after running our artificial intelligence prediction model, many England fans might be daring to dream.”

Based on England beating Iran 6-2, then, Tom and his machine concluded that Gareth’s lads would beat France and Germany en route to the final where – “it’s bad news here” – they would lose to Brazil.

The news, alas, was worse for Wales. “I’m afraid their chances of winning the World Cup are 0.5 per cent,” said Tom, for whom there will be no welcome in the valleys.

Kay Burley seemed sceptical. “Will you also be taking into account octopuses and kittens and all the sort of things that have been used for World Cup predictions previously?” Tom seemed hurt by that. “We draw on every data source available, but we tend to discard some of them and focus on the more reliable data.”

But, of course, if football was that predictable, we wouldn’t love it so.

“I am gobsmacked,” said Graeme come full-time after Saudi Arabia beat Messi (+10), accusing Argentina of being “wishy-washy”, the ultimate insult.

Our Roy, meanwhile, uttered a line no prediction model ever saw coming: “All credit to Saudi Arabia.”

And then he used perhaps the two most withering words ever deployed in the history of punditry to sum up Angel di Maria’s performance: “My God.”

But here, all credit to Kevin Doyle.

“I wouldn’t write off the Saudis, they had a good qualifying campaign,” he told Kenny Cunningham and Peter prematch. “I don’t think they’ll be a walkover like Iran were last night.”

“Is there any possibility we could see another annihilation?” asked Peter. Kev didn’t think so. Sky need to replace their artificial intelligence prediction model with this fella.

The highlight of the morning, as it proved, just nudging Al-Dawsari’s winner into second place, was ITV’s Lee Dixon moaning about Saudi Arabia playing a high line and constantly looking for offside, this from a fella whose entire Arsenal career involved playing a high line and constantly looking for offside. Him, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown (or Steve Bould) and Tony Adams’ right arms spent so much time in the air, it was a wonder they were ever able to lower them again.

The tussle of the morning, though, proved to be the one between Roy and Graeme at half-time when they begged to differ on the penalty awarded to Argentina, Roy reckoning it should never have been given, Graeme insisting the ref had no choice because of the latest raft of rules on this class of thing.

Roy: “That’s not a penalty.”

Graeme: “I’ve heard you say it 10 times. Do you want to say it again?”

Roy: “That’s my opinion, I’m here to give my opinion.”

Graeme: “You’ll learn a lot more if you listen rather than talk all the time.”

Ooooh. Neither man simmered, though, nor did their cheek muscles flex, as they tend to do during heated debates, so there was a bit of Panto about it all.

No matter. What was real was our Roy’s take on the whole circus.

“The World Cup shouldn’t be here, it shouldn’t be here….. the way they treat migrant workers, gay people …. you can’t treat people like that. We all love football, we’re on about spreading the game. But just to dismiss human rights flippantly because of a football tournament. It’s not right. It shouldn’t be here …. treat people with decency, that’s the bottom line.”

Hats off. Especially if they have those offensive rainbows on them.