Can England make a good football documentary by the next World Cup?

Like millions of football fans I tuned in full of hope. I felt this could be the programme that would finally put to rest all those years of hurt.

There were pundits who every weekend in the Premier League look like world beaters. And we had a presenter with a world class reputation and a world class salary.

But the England disease returned. Despite being made by one the world’s elite broadcasters we struggled to learn anything throughout and were comprehensively spanked by German pundits.

Something is very wrong. But can we find a cure and relive journalistic football glory again?

Can England make a good football documentary by the next World Cup? Indeed any World Cup?

We had a quick recap of what had gone wrong in South Africa.

An expensively assembled panel of former players had let their country down. This ‘golden generation’ of pundits though weren’t interested in researching the teams they were watching. Fans had to sit and watch whilst the pundits fell back on cliché, football orthodoxy and matey bonhomie. Techniques which by now were outdated in football coverage.

Some of the people interviewed even questioned if England had ever had any good pundits. They talked about the dark days of the past were people like Bob Wilson, Saint  Greavsie and Garth Crooks made a living from the game. In fact some of the still were.

Next we learnt that we don’t have the talent available to us at the highest level. Only 25% of the pundits working for the top broadcasters were English. Our football broadcasting having become bloated with ex-players and journalists from across Europe.

Trevor Brooking told us that our media coaching wasn’t producing pundits good enough for international broadcasting. This was because there were too many TV companies involved in running of football coverage.

Sir Trevor even apologised for his own role in providing non-committal, opinion free commentary on football matches. We knew he was sorry because he’d interrupted a hard day’s work at a private golf club in Surrey to talk to England‘s second best crisp salesman of all-time. [He could‘ve been number one but got too fancy with a routine sale of chip sticks to Brazil].

We were then told about Spain. Apparently 20 years ago things there had been even worse than in England. However, they’d decided to do something about it. They’d dedicated resources to developing the next generation of pundits with an emphasis on tactical fluency, penetrating insight and a comprehensive vocabulary.

Gary ended the programme by telling us he believed that maybe the poverty of our punditry had been so bad that TV bosses were finally going to do something about it.

Hopefully Gary hadn’t seen that MOTD2 was on afterwards with Lee Dixon, Alan Hansen and Clarence Seedorf. TV bosses, it seemed, hadn’t started doing anything just yet.


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