Match Of The Day, much like it’s many contributors, is fast growing old, tired and increasingly outdated. Whilst still perhaps continuing to service the needs of the BBC defined ‘everyman’, the staple highlights packages descent in to the vernacular and focus on the often-dull lowest common denominator has long started to alienate fans wanting more from their national broadcaster.
With the nation seemingly growing ever more aware of the tactical intricacies of the game, pundits such as Sky presenter and England coach Gary Neville are gaining favourable plaudits for providing expert insight, something which is clearly missing from the BBC’s flagship football programme.
The likes of Shearer, Hansen, Lawrenson, Crooks and Keown do little to help the dwindling cause, providing about as much entertaining and well balanced analysis as you’d expect from a John Terry lecture in to the merits of celibacy. Try as he might, host Lineker is a lone diamond in dung, his poorly scripted, often crowbarred in jokes only partially-forgiven on behalf of his natural charisma.
To remove all doubt; Match Of The Day needs reformatting, rebooting and dragging kicking and screaming in to the modern landscape of football journalism. Loosely scripted ad-libbed ‘banter’ may be Holy Grail for broadcasters such as Adrian Chiles, but we’ve come to expect more from our beloved Beeb. Their primary function should be to entertain and educate, not infuriate its loyal viewership, and this change needs to happen before its status as a treasured national institution is further cast in doubt.
The existing selection of pundits either needs replacing entirely or education in the art of proper prior planning, research and tactics. No longer can we accept that Shearer’s role is to present us a hastily cut together package of a striker, only to then describe what we’re watching verbatim as if his real job is to provide audio descriptions of the show for the blind. Surely the extensive research teams at the beckon call of BBC Sport can find ex-pros that actually paid attention during their coaching badges rather than providing us car crash television starring the likes of Sol Campbell and Michael Owen?
The division in expectancy within the viewing public seems simple enough to me; while a portion of viewers seem content with consuming purely match highlights, getting to enjoy the weekends goals and incidents without wanting an academic breakdown of proceedings; others, however, do.
Some of us don’t simply want to know that a team is doing particularly well or horrifically badly justified by a 5-minute clip of the game and 90-seconds of painstaking chitchat, in a show that lasts on average around 90-minutes long there should be more than enough room to satisfy both.
Why not, perhaps, spend the first hour of the programme showing nothing but interrupted extended highlights of the weekend’s games, abandoning the rushed mid-highlight analysis that has begun to irk so many and satisfy so few. Football, and nothing but, won’t offend anybody – rather, what it will allow is the final 30-minutes of the broadcast to be dedicated to real in-depth analysis of the weekends talking points, the burden of simply having to ‘fit in’ all of the remaining games done away with.
If the highlights get shown and the games get properly analysed, what would be so revolutionary about simply reformatting a show that’s losing its purpose almost as quickly as people are losing their love for it? If Match Of The Day is suffering from a crisis of identity, surely nobody can be enjoying watching the show run in cringeworthy circle after cringeworthy circle chasing its own proverbial tail?
It’s time for the people behind the programme, and BBC Sport as whole, to allow for some self-scrutiny and be brave enough to rescue a regularly failing show and provide a product that’s fit for the 2013-2014 Premier League season. After all, if we can’t look to our national broadcaster for industry defining coverage, then what hope have we got left?