TV View: Ronnie Whelan fails to judge the mood as football stops to applaud Eriksen

Over on ITV, Clive Tyldesley takes it to the other extreme during Denmark v Belgium game

 Romelu Lukaku  of Belgium and Andreas Christensen  of Denmark applaud after the ball is kicked out of play in the 10th minute of the match to pay tribute to Christian Eriksen. Photograph:  Friedemann Vogel/EPA

Romelu Lukaku of Belgium and Andreas Christensen of Denmark applaud after the ball is kicked out of play in the 10th minute of the match to pay tribute to Christian Eriksen. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/EPA

 

The 10th minute of Denmark v Belgium, the ball is kicked out to allow a minute’s applause from the players and supporters in Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium for Christian Eriksen.

The tribute is cacophonous.

Tears flow.

Clive Tyldesley emotes.

“We can’t know if we will ever see Christian Eriksen play again, but five days ago we couldn’t be sure if we’d ever see him smile again.”

The football world unites in its salute to this beautiful, poignant moment.

Apart from Ronnie Whelan.

“There’s no real need for this . . . everything’s all right, he’s okay – let’s get on with the football again!”

For that Ronnie wins our much coveted Euro 2020 Man of the Day award because how can you not love a curmudgeon? And you just knew he came perilously close to saying, “let’s get on with the feckin’ football again, for feck sake, the lad’s alive”.

Stephen Alkin moved swiftly on, switching the conversation to strictly footballing issues, perhaps sensing that the Montrose switchboard was about to light up with complaints about Ronnie’s insensitivity.

It’s as well, really, that Ronnie wasn’t sitting beside Clive over on ITV because if Clive mentioned Christian once, he mentioned him several hundred times. If Denmark won a corner, it was sort of, ‘they did it for Christian’.

He even paid tribute to the referee in the Denmark v Finland game, Anthony Taylor, for not sending off Danish captain Simon Kjaer, who heroically helped Eriksen in the earliest moments of his distress, when he was the last defender and (allegedly) tugged back Teemu Pukki just as the Finnish lad was through on goal.

If Taylor had shown Kjaer a red card, said Clive, “Kjaer would not have been on the field when he was most needed”.

“So, are you saying it was a good wrong decision,” asked Ally McCoist.

“Well . . . ,” was the gist of Clive’s reply.

Before then, ITV had enlisted a panel made up of Graeme Souness, sporting the beard that Roy Keane had shaved off the day before, Ashley Cole, and the best pick of all, Nadia Nadim.

Nadim’s story is the stuff of movies, an Afghan refugee whose family fled to Denmark after her father, a general in the Afghan army, was murdered by the Taliban when she was just nine. There was a football pitch beside the asylum seekers’ refuge where she and her family stayed. She liked the look of the game. She now has 98 caps for Denmark. At the same time, she studied medicine, her ambition to become a reconstructive surgeon. She speaks 11 languages too, like you do.

She was on international duty when Eriksen was struck down. She and her team-mates were watching it all, many of them in tears. But her medical training reassured her that he could be saved. Which he was.

She’s a remarkable woman, even Souness was rendered speechless for much of her commentary, him being a man who’s no stranger to chronic heart problems.

By half-time, she was beaming. “I’m in love with the first 45 minutes,” she said.

There were those who wondered if it would take Denmark a while to settle in to the game, considering what their players have been through of late, and they were right to worry – it took them a whole 99 seconds to score.

A highly blistering start by the Danes, then, against a highly sluggish Belgium. “The two teams are playing in different lanes on this particular motorway,” said Clive. “Absoloooooly,” said Ally.

And considering how much dog’s abuse is showered over match officials most of the time, it was nice of Ally to pay tribute to referee Bjorn Kuipers: “A well kept face.”

Come half-time, when Nadim was high-fiving the heavens, Graeme was bemoaning the performance of the Belgian defence, noting that Jan Vertonghen “looks like he’s towing a caravan”. In fairness, he didn’t blame Paul Pogba for their woes, but that was largely due to the fact that Pogba isn’t Belgian, so, therefore, wasn’t on the actual pitch.

Second half, and Belgium sprinkled a little gold dust over their team by bringing on Kevin De Bruyne and, later, Eden Hazard, the mother, father, aunty and uncles of all benches.

And the rest, well, you know yourself. Don’t tell RTÉ, the BBC or ITV, but some of us would happily pay-per-every-view of De Bruyne nuzzling up to a football. A maestro, that lad. The move leading up to his goal? Ah stop.

“It’s not just any ordinary Joe coming on,” said Souness of his introduction to the game, poor Demark left wondering how much more damage he could have inflicted on them if he wasn’t suffering from a fractured nose and eye socket.

Ronnie, no doubt, would say: “He’s okay – let’s get on with the feckin’ football!”

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