TV View: Savage throws caution to the wind as joy unconfined in the valleys

BBC pundit can’t contain himself as Wales seal impressive victory over Turkey

Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates his side’s late  second goal against Turkey in the Group A clash in   Baku, Azerbaijan. Photograph: Darko Vojinovic/EPA

Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates his side’s late second goal against Turkey in the Group A clash in Baku, Azerbaijan. Photograph: Darko Vojinovic/EPA

 

Day Six and if you ever regretted not going inter-railing in your youth, Euro 2020 has kind of filled that gap, Wednesday alone taking us from St Petersburg to Baku and on to Rome, all in the space of six-ish hours. And not a smelly-socks-filled rucksack in sight.

Russia v Finland was up first, Mark Chapman boasting about the pedigree of the BBC panel he’d been provided with for the game.

“Over 150 England caps in this studio,” he said, “and 140 of them belong to Alex Scott. ” In fairness, Micah Richards took the barb reasonably well.

This, as we know, is Finland’s first major tournament and Martin Keown saluted them for the achievement, noting that their players are “almost household names in their own country”, possibly the only one who is almost never mentioned at all in Finnish households Daniel O’Shaughnessy because, you’d guess, they’d look at his surname and go “what?”

Martin, even with his own substantial Irish blood, the fella even Irish dancing in his youth, avoided name-checking O’Shaughnessy for the bulk of the game, opting instead for observations like “the Finland defender did well there”, but the presence of the lad in their team was a brutal reminder of the Euro 2020 XI that could have played for us.

Yes, yes, we should let it go, but God Almighty. We’re going for a 3-5-1-1 formation here. It’s a little more defensive than we’d like, but you have to go with your best players.

Dean Henderson

Conor Coady - Harry Maguire - Daniel O’Shaughnessy

Reece James - Jude Bellingham - Declan Rice - Kalvin Phillips - Andy Robertson

Jack Grealish

Harry Kane

To be honest, not all of these Irish connections have been confirmed, Henderson and Coady specifically, in some cases our evidence based on internet forum comments like “he has to be Irish”, rather than actual family trees. But looking at that line-up calls to mind Jim Bowen on Bullseye: “Here’s what you could have won”.

What’s it they say, though? We are where we are.

Back to Russia v Finland and Martin observed Russian defender Mario Fernandes taking a decidedly nasty fall, landing from on high on his shoulders and neck.

“I expect him to be okay there, it’s all part and parcel of top level play,” he told his partner in the commentary box, Robyn Cowen, Robyn just about resisting asking Martin exactly when he completed his medical degree – or why landing from on high on your shoulders and neck should be part and parcel of top level play.

No sooner had Martin made his diagnosis, Fernandes was stretchered from the field in a neck brace, and you can only wish the fella well. It was at this point that Martin conceded his initial diagnosis might have been faulty.

Anyway, Russia won the game with a rather tasty finish (boom!) from Aleksey Miranchuk, but aside from that moment the game was as attractive as a rucksack full of smelly socks.

Wales v Turkey was decidedly better, even if Wales played in the colours of Australia and Turkey in the colours of Wales in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, leaving your head at a total loss.

And when Ethan Ampadu came on as a sub for Wales, that was another for our ‘Ones That Got Away’ list, his Da Kwame having grown up in Dublin and played under-21 for Ireland. Just when you’re willing to move on, yet more pain is unleashed.

There were severe techy problems in that first half, the pictures going haywire, the Beeb blaming Uefa, Robbie Savage suggesting to Steve Wilson that “there might be a few listening who’d quite like the sound to go”.

Indeed, Robbie has got some abuse for being less than impartial while co-commentating on Wales, but in fairness to him he kept his head when, first, quarterback Gareth Bale set up Aaron Ramsey for Wales’ first goal, with a pass so delicious it would have brought tears to your eyes, before Connor Roberts wrapped up the points with their second.

“WARD, DAVIES, RODON, ALLEN, RAMSEY, BALE, MOORE, ROBERTS, MORRELL, JAMES, MEPHAM, ALL OF YA, YOU HAVE JUST DONE A NATION PROUD, MAGNIFICENT DESIRE, ATTITUDE AND AGGRESSION WITH OR WITHOUT THE BALL!!!!”

So, he stayed calm. And completely resisted declaring:

“RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, YOUR BOYS TOOK A HELLUVA BEATING!!!

Wales? How can you not love them? Almost as much as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira love each other now.

“I remember they went for a Cornetto together having tried to rip each other’s heads off all their lives,” recalled Gareth Southgate of his time working as a pundit with the pair on ITV.

No enmity, then, is too deep to fix. Next thing we’ll hear Roy and Patrick are going inter-railing together.

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