RTÉ quartet set to be crowned grumpiest punditry team of Euro 2020

The tetchiness of Didi, Duffer, Kenny and Ronnie is proving deliciously enjoyable

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal takes a drink. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal takes a drink. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty

 

Didi, Duffer, Kenny and Ronnie sounds a little like RTÉ’s version of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, although the quartet’s intermittent grumpiness over the weekend struck a more discordant note than the 1960s hit-parade toppers ever did. Indeed, their grumpiness was almost as deliciously enjoyable as that Germany v Portugal encounter in Munich on Saturday.

We all have our punditry favourites, and quite often decades-old friendships are ended after disagreements over whether, say, Robbie Savage is wonderful or woeful, friendships that, admittedly, may not have been built on solid foundations when Robbie was so easily able to break them up, much as he did opposition ankles on occasion.

Indeed, if you proclaim that three of your favourite Euro 2020 pundits are Emma Hayes, Lisa Fallon and Alex Scott, there’s a danger you’ll be told “that’s wimmin’ for ya, with yer feminazi sisterhood”. But Emma Hayes, Lisa Fallon and Alex Scott are three of Euro 2020’s best pundits, largely because they know football a whole lot better than we think we do, and impart their knowledge generously. That’s not an opinion, it’s just a fact.

But it’s the lads who have been the tetchiest of late. Ronnie Whelan quite majestically took to the tweet machine after a person called Bob typed the words: “Imagine an app where you could mute @WhelanRonnie5.”

To which Ronnie replied: “Imagine a telly where you could change the f***ing channel.”

Rude, yes, but Ronnie had a point, although if the alternatives are Jermaine Jenas or Danny Murphy, channel-hopping might not offer much relief to Bob.

Danny, incidentally, prompted a guffaw or two when he concluded that Spain would be handy opponents for England in the last 16 – “You’d be thinking, you’d have a good go against them” – when England haven’t yet secured their passage out of their group. They’re likely to do so, but after their performance against Scotland, you’d think Danny would hold his whisht.

(Hats off, by the way, to the Daily Mirror headline writers, after the Scotland game: “DEADLOCH” and “FLOPSCOTCH”).

Hot water

Kenny, meanwhile, was peeved, to quite incendiary levels, about the water breaks in the Germany v Portugal game. Not even Ger Canning telling him that they also happen in the GAA could calm him. “Ah Ger, come on,” he said, rhythm-shattering interludes worrying him considerably more than potential dehydration issues.

Didi’s focus, though, was on that moment Cristiano Ronaldo did his no-look-flicky-backheel-pass to a comrade, as Antonio Rudiger wondered where the ball went. The skill thrilled Richie Sadlier. But Didi was having none of it.

“I think it’s nonsense. I think, in a way, he’s belittling the opposition. I’m sitting here while you all rave about it. He looks a fool now.”

Richie suggested Didi was “sucking the life out of the room” and that showboating of that cheeky quality was entertainment par excellence. Didi pointed to the result of the game, that the non-no-look-flicky-backheel-pass Germans had prevailed, and handsomely.

Damien Duffer had a similar issue with Spain after their draw with Poland. “A brilliant, beautiful team to watch … up to a point,” he said. He loves their tiki-taka thing, but if it doesn’t actually result in anything, “you get a bit bored watching them”. And it hurt him to say it because they play a brand of football that makes his heart go va-va-voom.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts – passes, in this case,” he said. “France and Belgium will kill you with one cut, I don’t see that with Spain. There are no real eliminators.”

Welsh education

Wales, as it proved, had no eliminators against Italy either, apart from Ethan Ampadu, who came close to eliminating Federico Bernardeschi’s ankle and got a red card for his trouble.

Before the game ITV did a piece that explained why the waiting list for Cardiff’s Whitchurch High School, crammed with parents who want their small people to become Welsh sporting icons, is the length of the Amazon. Among their alma mater: Gareth Bale (Welsh football captain), Sam Warburton (former Lions captain), Elliot Kear (Welsh rugby league captain), the three of them all in the same year. And in the year above them were Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas. Whitchurch High PE teacher Gwyn Morris became emotional about it all, possibly because his current crop are (old-person-observation-alert) too busy Tik-Tok-ing to become Welsh ledges.

Just for balance, ITV had only three former Welsh internationals in the studio for the game – Hal Robson-Kanu, Joe Ledley and Robert Earnshaw – while appointing John Hartson to co-commentary duty. John told us Daniel James had an “outstanding” season with Manchester United, thereby revealing that he doesn’t actually watch the Premier League.

Wales lost, but won. They’re through to the last 16 where they will play Russia, Finland, Denmark or somebody. Whitchurch, you’d guess, is on a High.

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