MOTD - The irrepressible beast and the unmoveable object

by guest-blogger Tricky


Football; a lot of us watch it live, some of us listen to it and some of us have to be content with the ‘highlights’. But how much of a true representation is it and how do different media streams of the Beeb get their point across. And who chooses what gets missed out?

Well starting with Radio 5 Live it's exactly that (a true representation); on the spot, full coverage, all incident and aspect considered, often to the nth degree bordering on trivia quiz.

The Beebs live internet format is a relatively new, but in essence is simply a web based version of Ceefax (if you don’t know what that is just ask your dad, if you don’t know who your dad is give Jeremy Kyle a call) with more info.

But what of the much loved MOTD? After all condensing a 90 minute game into 11mins of highlights and 3 minutes of ‘analysis’ requires a lot of editing, but for some it is an institution. But surely the Beeb are an impartial neutral, able to report with objectivity and without bias. So if anyone can they can, right?

But then again this is a programme where - for what seems like eternity - they have employed two pundits who were given carte blanche to wax lyrical about their old clubs, so you have to question their bias in the first place on that point.

      Lawro and Hansen hard at work analysing

And the integrity of the new kids on the block? Well, I only have to ask what sort of genius would employ an irrepressible beast who has a ‘face for radio’ to help analyse the game? (Do they not know that I watch the repeats on a Sunday morning and have to eat breakfast sometimes faced with the gargoyle love child of ‘Sam the Eagle’ and Andi McDowell?)

So is MOTD a true representation of the game or it is edited to buggery with intentional bias?

Well, last Sunday I managed to watch the first half of Sunderland vs. Man City, and then listened to the second whilst in the car on 5 live. Now a certain Mr, Shaun Wright-Wright Phillips had, by all accounts, a woeful game and was the cause of the head shaking by Mancini who couldn’t believe how wasteful with his possession he had been, and then the radio covered an incident.

Now this incident bought into question the competence of the referee, (The radio 5 commentator said at the time the ref “bottled” making the correct decision which would have led to the dismissal of Wright-Wright Phillips) and how one moment could affect the course of a game.

For those that didn’t hear /see it; Born of frustration WWP effectively handled the ball whilst it was in play, already on a yellow and a goal down, the ref simply restarted and looked across to the bench as though he had been expecting a substitution to occur as his ‘get out of jail free card’. Sunderland can perhaps feel a little hard done by.

And so later on when watching MOTD2 I was interested to see, err, nothing. No reference to it, nada. There was time for a little montage of woeful shooting, but an actual incident that could have altered the context of the game. Not an iota of coverage at all. Nada, just an extra minute spent on the equalizer (not the late Edward Woodward) and how Adam Johnson might now be ‘a contender for the World cup squad.

So now, if you read the online match report on Beeb or watched the highlights you would be forgiven for thinking from the comments made on MOTD by the commentator that Adam Johnson’s inclusion was just a tactical change.

Now taking a step back from the ‘one game mentality’ for one moment, we all know that any given season could be said to be nothing more than a series of interconnected ‘incidents’, out of which both the myth of ‘what goes around’ and ‘the conspiracy theories’ are born.

They help form opinion, often about opposing clubs, and with a myriad of sources available who do we tend to believe? The journalists perhaps, after all they were there? But then they’re hardly without bias (just ask the reporters at the standard).

Consequently we all know people who dislike us, not for what we are, but for how we are portrayed, our team, our manager [yet another separate barrel of fish that one] and even our fans. And you can almost forgive some of them, because six different match reports could equally be from different games.

So having watched MOTD objectively I have some new conspiracy theories, time will tell how self fulfilling they become:

-    Is it now policy between now and May on MOTD to always show potential England players in a good light?

-    There must be a Rooney montage available for all end credits?

-    Each show should include the ‘kiss of death’ commentary that Rooney needs to ‘stay fit for the WC if we are to stand a chance’?

-    No wrong decisions by referees will be shown to undermine them (or at least our representatives at the summer WC, can’t think who they might be though)?

-    Do we now ignore the negative aspect of the national teams players, in order to help build up the inevitable furore and ‘national pride’ across the country, as we all believe that our players are without fault 100% of the time?

So what of Gerrard and his investigation by FA? There are those who seem to think that in a World Cup year certain players are ‘untouchable’, but it should make no difference, surely? But will it be ‘carpet and brush’ as in previous years or is this the next ‘Terrygate’? (edit: Spooky: FA have turned a blind eye much like the ref who was staring at the incident when it happened)

And what of the neutrals? Those of us who follow the game and for whom day to day banter with opposing fans in an office or out with friends and family is often based upon these half truths.

Well, as Day of the Triffics pt2 has shown (link to his rundown of Webb-isms from Blackburn match report) the fans remember the incidents, in their own way and from their perspective, so when you next watch MOTD maybe a healthy dose of cynicism wouldn’t go amiss.

For me, I will declare my bias accordingly, I still love MOTD, but then if anyone has read my biog Lineker is my childhood hero, so I’m 100% biased on this one.

And if you're looking for a new drinking game, try the ‘triffic game’ with Harry full pre- and post- match interviews, you’ll be on the floor in 90 seconds.