TV View: Dunphy gets it right as BBC turn up England hype
Southgate proves to be the only English man not going overboard after win over Panama
Panama defender Roman Torres reacts as England midfielder Jordan Henderson fires a shot at goal. Photograph: Getty Images
“A big well done to England, ” said Damien Duff, “but it’s important not to get carried away and start building them up.” Darragh Maloney agreed. “We won’t turn the hype machine up to 11 just yet,” he said, “we’ll leave that to others”.
Dunno who he was talking about.
Meanwhile, over on the BBC.
Al Shearer: “Sparkling!”
Al: “Sheer brilliance!”
Lamps Lampard: “We woz absoluuuuuuutely brilliant!”
Gary: “Poland, Senegal, Japan, Colombia . . . ?”
Rio: “There’s no one to worry about in that group!”
Gary: “Should we start to get excited?”
Gary: “We’re on our way!”
Remember all that talk about sensibly low expectations of England at this World Cup? And how this team won’t be ready to challenge for anything for another two or four years? Well, they’re well and truly banjaxed on that front now having slain Tunisia and Panama, the mayor of London possibly ordering 17 tons of ticker tape as we speak.
And England only have themselves to blame by being quite good on Sunday. “One, two, three, four, five, what a time to be alive,” said Guy Mowbray when the half-time whistle blew to give Panama a 15-minute break from their pummelling.
It’s not that the BBC gang weren’t oozing with confidence before the game, they certainly were, but when even John Stones found himself on a hat-trick in that first half, it was an indication that the day had gone into gaga overdrive.
Back on RTÉ, The Dunph had been fairly confident of an England win too, “although you’re never far away from a train-wreck with them”, stopping just short of calling their team flawless because it’s “unbalanced”, has “too many attacking players of the one kind”, possesses a midfield that is “very light” and a dodgy back three. “But I hope they win – and win well,” he added.
Now, some of us had decided to be equally mature about it this time around and wish our neighbours well on their World Cup journey, largely because (a) Gareth Southgate seems to be a thoroughly decent chap and (b) elements of the English press would welcome the sight of Raheem Sterling raising the trophy as much as they would, say, a second referendum on Brexit.
But then Guy Mowbray and Danny Murphy (the only man on Earth who makes John Terry seem lovable) enter your livingroom and God almighty. And you know you should turn back to George and Ronnie to escape the head-wrecking condescension and smugness, but sometimes you just like being annoyed.
Guy just couldn’t help himself. “Panama well and truly served their papers!”
And when they had the cheek to score. “Smiles as wide as the Panama Canal!” Pat, pat.
By now you just wanted an asteroid to hit Earth to make it stop.
Guy even managed to alienate the entire population of the upper bit of this island when he wondered out loud if England could top their biggest ever victory, “13-0 against Northern Ireland in 1882”. Which, of course, was in and around 40 years before Norn Iron was born, the 0-13 setback a United Ireland effort. (Mind you, that was nothing next to the reaction of the Spurs faithful when Cesc Fabregas told the BBC pre-match that Harry Kane “is now ready to go to a big club”. Not one head in that bit of north London was left unexploded).
Come half-time Eamon let us down a bagful by not suggesting that Panama were like something you’d see in the Phoenix Park, instead just saluting England’s “ruthless efficiency”, but back on the Beeb Rio kind of went down that route, reckoning “they wouldn’t even sit well in our non-League, to be honest with ya” and that their defending was “crazy, immature, unprofessional and naïve”. And in the next breath he sort of intimated that England would win the World Cup because they were five up against a team that wouldn’t sit well in non-League football and whose defending was crazy, immature, unprofessional and naïve.
Gary might have pulled him on this, but he was too busy trying to fit all of England’s goals in to the half-time break. “I’m losing count,” he grinned.
Second half. 6-0. “If this isn’t an excuse to pop open a bottle of fizz, I don’t know what is,” said Guy, by now an overwhelming temptation developing to pop open Guy and Danny.
Only the full-time whistle brought relief.
“Clearly not the greatest opposition England have ever played in the World Cup,” said Gary of the 55th ranked nation on the planet, but that didn’t stop Rio from suggesting that Garef Sowfgate should rest some players ahead of England going “deep into the tournament”.
Garef, as it proved, was the only man keeping his head, telling Gabby Logan, who stopped just short of introducing him as Sir Alf, that he didn’t particularly like England’s performance, there was a glitch or two. This might actually be why England could go deep into the tournament, they have a gaffer who keeps his head when all about him are losing theirs.
Back on RTÉ. “They may go overboard,” said Eamon.
He wasn’t wrong.