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Sky At Flight, Mourinho Delight


Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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“I’m looking forward to working with BT Sport. In their first year, they have shown they are not afraid to challenge, are open to new ideas and want to do things differently. This is the kind of team and ambition that I want to work with.â€

 

Jose Mourinho - on agreeing to become a pundit for BT Sport and signing a three-year contract with the broadcaster.

 

As always with Jose, this was more than just your average publicity blurb. He never says anything without plan aforethought and the emphasis placed on BT Sport bravery (in taking on Sky in the first place) is quickly followed by reference to their new ideas and a-doing of things differently, the whole package coming across as one big bundle of ambition-driven fun for everyone concerned. Excited? I know I am, but not because of the sum of this deal’s parts. Not because Jose has the option of appearing during live matches in competitions in which his club are not, or are no longer, involved. Nor because his role could encompass FA Cup ties and BT Sport’s Champions League and Europa League coverage when its £897 million contract begins in 2015. No, I’m excited by the thought of Sky Sports having to acknowledge the seriousness of a BT threat that begins to look more like a promise as each day goes by - a promise to usurp Sky’s place at the forefront of TV football coverage.

 

Make no mistake, Shed-Enders, Sky could have got our boss to do exactly the same ego-massaging role for them ever since 2009, but chose not to - Jose Mourinho was an ambassador for Sky back then, describing their Premiership football coverage as ‘special’, yet that was really the extent of his involvement, nothing else so you’d notice, such was the all-consuming Sky Fergie-fawning going on at the time. Indeed, the deliberate positioning of Jose in any Sky enemy camp on any issue was still as prevalent in 2009 as it was when he was in charge at Chelsea two years earlier. Now that he’s back and the Manc era under Louis van Gaal is being ushered in with such SSN enthusiasm, the chance of another mutually-beneficial arrangement being cobbled together was always going to be slim to none. Instead, in the wake of BT opportunism of the highest order, we see Sky’s first litigious warning shot fired across BT’s bow, forcing them to pull an ad with another of its ambassadors, Gareth Bale, which plugged its European football coverage. The material fell foul of Uefa’s marketing agency, Team, which only permits current rights holders, such as Sky Sports, to run such ads.

 

Perhaps at this point, rather than prejudge the situation as a whole, it might be an idea to take stock and look back to last November when BT moved on from taking a mere morsel of Premier League game pie to become the new UK home of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football, following a tender process in which they won the exclusive live broadcast rights to all 350 matches from both tournaments, the rights running for three seasons from 2015/16. In short, this was the first time a single UK broadcaster had won the exclusive live rights to all matches from both tournaments and hundreds of additional top tier matches will boost BT Sport, making it the natural home for football fans who wish to see the very best European sides pitted against each other.

 

And it may not stop there. Rumour has it that BT were incredibly close, in the last round of bidding, to claiming even more Premier League matches than they have at present and when the bidding starts again they will be even more strongly in the running. Quite simply, BT are not going away and it is the most serious challenger Sky have ever faced. The Telegraph reported at the time that Sky had recognised the threat and launched a so-called Project Purple, a think-tank dedicated to finding ways to derail BT and its Premier League coverage. That project was apparently shelved back then, Sky taking an ’am I bothered, do I look bothered?’ stance about BT, but the likelihood is it will have to reconvene again because sources (don’t you just love the word?) close to the talks said the Premier League was suspected of opportunism in attempting to exploit the fierce competition between BSkyB and BT and the resulting increase in the value of sports rights.

 

Putting the cost into context, the pair paid more than £3bn between them last time they bid, in 2012. The rights currently on the block will cover three Premier League seasons, beginning with the 2016-17 campaign and the Premier League has informally suggested BSkyB and BT would be invited to bid as early as this December, rather than after the end of the next season. The dovetailing with Jose’s ’term of office’ at BT is brought into sharp focus when all the strands of information are pulled together like this and I’m certain, unlike when he was seemingly mothballed by Sky, they will use Mourinho’s Media talents to the full. The stark contrast will be there for all to see, as Sky cherry pick anything in preference to good news Chelsea items, adopting a pittance policy for us, restricted merely to the odd tailored-to-suit-our-agenda edition of Jose’s weekly Premiership press conferences, whilst at the same time grappling with the concept that Louis van Gaal has to be made to look good at all costs.

 

Meanwhile, BT Sport viewers will have another concept on show - that of someone giving refreshingly straight answers to straight questions. Here’s hoping BT are quick to realise they have a catalyst in their camp, react accordingly, and start catering for an audience that doesn’t necessarily want to slide mind-numbingly into the straightjacket of pro-Mancunian or Scouse comments every five minutes. Optimistic I know, but soon genuine choice could exist and for those not yet brainwashed into believing otherwise, gone forever could be those endless hour-long loops of platitude and inanity, the Jim White styled ’hallo to my good friend Harry/SirAlex/assortedJamie(s)/Big Sam [insert where inappropriate] - SSN consigned to being a channel once watched when we knew of none other like it, as opposed to none better than it.

 

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BT has a lot to sort out in terms of football coverage, like the stupid manager cam crap, rubbish commentators and terrible pundits, although still beats the Liverpool love in on Sky i.e. Jamie Redknapp & Carragher but they lack a Gary Neville. They also need a Sky Sports News type bonus channel as that's another thing Sky have over them, some were proven wrong when doubting Sky back in the day however but I do seriously doubt BT been able to compete. They paid a hell of a lot for the Champions League rights and some say they've overpaid. Guess time will tell.

Edited by Bobbywoodhogan
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Sky were an absolute joke in the run in. I still remember when we beat the scouse at anfield. I can remember 5 mins before kick off they started panning the camera around the whole of the kop creaming about the atmosphere. Never have I seen that before ! With any team. Might sound insignificant but it just shows the love In.

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Sky were an absolute joke in the run in. I still remember when we beat the scouse at anfield. I can remember 5 mins before kick off they started panning the camera around the whole of the kop creaming about the atmosphere. Never have I seen that before ! With any team. Might sound insignificant but it just shows the love In.

The biggest problem I had and same goes with the BBC is every week when there were Liverpool people in the studios for the matches. Just constantly and Souness whose usually alright suddenly got caught up in his old clubs hype and became unbearable. Redknapp was a disgrace simple as, can't believe he still has a job at Sky, he's a bitter cnut.

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For a first year I think BT did alright, fared much better than Setanta and ESPN did previously. 

 

Hopefully they take on board some of the criticism that's come their way and tweak a few things.

 

The pundits don't bother me much because I hardly ever watch them anyway but they really should replace Michael Owen in the commentary team, the man has the personality of a dish cloth. 

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For a first year I think BT did alright, fared much better than Setanta and ESPN did previously.

Hopefully they take on board some of the criticism that's come their way and tweak a few things.

The pundits don't bother me much because I hardly ever watch them anyway but they really should replace Michael Owen in the commentary team, the man has the personality of a dish cloth.

He's awful isn't he? I was glad to hear Andy Gray on a couple of FA Cup games, hopefully they'll bring him back for more next season. He's by far still the best co-commentator, Sky miss him in the commentary booth.

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He's awful isn't he? I was glad to hear Andy Gray on a couple of FA Cup games, hopefully they'll bring him back for more next season. He's by far still the best co-commentator, Sky miss him in the commentary booth.

 

Andy Gray became a tired cliche of himself by the end.

 

"Take a bow son"

 

"Can't win the raffle if you don't buy a ticket"

 

"Stick it in the mixer"

 

I much prefer Gary Neville who at least contributes some insight with his punditry. 

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Andy Gray became a tired cliche of himself by the end.

"Take a bow son"

"Can't win the raffle if you don't buy a ticket"

"Stick it in the mixer"

I much prefer Gary Neville who at least contributes some insight with his punditry.

He was exciting, Neville is better in the studio I will agree with but no ones better as a co commentator than Gray

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The worst thing BT had was Mark Hasley on the sideline talking about decisions, even when they were clear: 'so mark why did they give they throw in to Chelsea?'

'Well I'm glad you asked..because it came off the other teams left back'.

Sky have it right with Geoff Shreeves, comes in if there is something that isn't clear for viewers or commentators and can do something else with his pre/post match interviews, even if it does mean Ivanovic won't be playing the final.

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To be perfectly honest there are at best a handful of TV pundits who perform their jobs to an acceptable standard: one is Neville (Gary of course - Phil was embarrassingly poor), another two are maybe Danny Murphy and Jamie Carragher. You can see the standard we are dealing with... 

 

Every once in a while, you will get a foreign pundit such as Henry, Seedorf or Zola who can run rings around old hacks like Hansen and Lawro (I particularly enjoyed Henry's inference that Hansen 'wouldn't have heard of a single Costa Rica player'), but for every single game and every single channel, every broadcaster will have at least two complete and total idiots in the studio. Some are completely inept - the fact that Robbie Savage still has a job boggles the mind.

 

I don't know how exactly this will change, I've watched a few games from French TV and their punditry wasn't bad at all, so it's clear we're doing something wrong rather than being incapable as a nation of the task of lucid, informative punditry. Eventually I imagine we will realise that the ranks of English ex-footballers aren't exactly packed with intellectuals; even slightly brighter players like Le Saux and Clarke Carlisle (although I enjoyed it when he yelled 'OH MY DAYS' after Tim Cahill's wondergoal) don't really tell us much - perhaps the solution is to put a few journalists on the MOTD panel? Maybe some continental managers? We need people who know the tactical side of the game inside out and who are used to articulating their thoughts and ideas - where's G4 when you need him?

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There's a few other pundits I don't mind.

 

Roy Keane is alright because he isn't bothered about voicing an opinion that goes against narrative of what everyone else is saying. 

 

Lee Dixon is alright but gets too little screen time and drowned out by Chiles most the time. 

 

Sourness has his moments, he can sometimes be quite insightful and like Keane not afraid to go against the grain with his opinions. 

 

Danny Murphy i'm undecided on, sometimes he seems pretty decent and others his opinions are just as vanilla as all the rest. 

 

Ian Wright, Robbie Savage, Jamie Redknapp, Glenn Hoddle, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Shearer, David James, David Ginola are all dross. 

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Gullit's decent I find cause he cuts through the bullsh*t but he's only on European nights. Neville's the best by a country mile, Souness and Carragher are good when they aren't watching Liverpool. Niall Quinn's abit dull but better than idiots like Redknapp, Hansen, Collymore, Lawrenson, Shearer, Savage, Dublin etc

Danny Murphy was surpisingly decent, Kevin Phillips is good but he doesn't do enough, sane with Wilkins, Nevin's good also. Dixon's good but agreed doesn't get enough screentine, Henry was superb on BBC and when he retires should really consider doing it full time. I do like Roy Keane but only in small doses.

Edited by Bobbywoodhogan
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I enjoy watching Gary Neville, insightful and usually fair, and Roy Keane, a bit of a maverick who looks like he could throttle Chiles at any minute (always a plus). I will always appreciate Souness for his stance after the Ovrebo game, one of the few media types to actually assess the horror of the refs performance and the injustice of it all.

 

Michael Owen's voice is pure Vallium and he has little of value to say. Mark Lawrenson, Ian Wright, Rio are all  moronic, and as for Warnock I remember his patronising remark to David James too, but at least James hit back by pointing out that Warnock "Had never played the game at the highest level"

 

But I think the worst pundit ever has to be Jamie Redknapp, his is biased, thick, and if he had his Fathers looks would never be let near a T.V. studio, in short he is a disgrace to sports coverage, the tight trousered t*sser...

 

I do quite enjoy Sky's coverage but thought the entire Sky news team and pundits, were going to break out the black armbands when Liverpool threw away the title against us, it must have been even more galling for City fans. So if BT give them a proper run for their money it can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

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