It was as if the BBC had become the first to discover the second tier of English football, this mythical land when one of four might not necessarily lift the silverware, where money talks, but does not have the divine right to win every argument. "Welcome to the Championship," said Gary Lineker, with a knowing wink that was half Jeremy Clarkson, half Thomas Edison. "It's unpredictable, it's intense, it's passionate." And it's cheap, Gary. Don't forget the cheap bit.
Still, the BBC's Eureka moment did go rather well, even if they did rather over do it. Guy Mowbray, their excitable commentator, actually said: "So Shelton Martis becomes the first to score in a live Championship game on the BBC." Well, there's one to tell the grandkids. ("Grandpa, what was the BBC?") Otherwise the coverage was good, the natter was good, even the football was good. It fully deserved its gig as the warm-up act for the National Lottery.
But then, West Brom versus Newcastle on this particular first day of this particular season with Alan Shearer in the studio is as easy a sell as is imaginable Championship-wise. It will be interesting to see how they try to sell, say Scunthorpe v Blackpool in January with, erm, Alan Shearer in the studio. Might be like trying to sell a football club to the Geordies.
On the subject of Shearer, this is clearly an absolute scandal which highlights everything bad about football. The wishes of the faithful supporters are being totally ignored here. I mean, how did we Match of the Day fans end up with him? It's simple. We don't want him. They do. Sort it out. Mike Ashley for BBC director-general, I say. With Mark Thompson going the other way if necessary.
Actually, this is the one and only time this column will applaud the corporation for squeezing in Shearer between Lineker and Lee Dixon (Christmas Twister, notwithstanding). He of the platitude actually said something. Of interest. True, he did fail to advise us of Joey Barton's latest (at the time of going to press) training ground dust-up, but he did tell us that Barton is not the most creative midfielder around (cigars notwithstanding).
Nor, says Al, are any of the Newcastle midfield. Let's just pray that Barton, and for that matter, Alan Smith and Kevin Nolan believe the iPlayer to be a device on the BBC website which allows the user to watch the letter "I" over and over (well in certain Premiership households it would make a change from "me, me, me") and do not tune in to check what their old/prospective gaffer said about the limitations of their talents. Or else poor little Joey might soon be in a bit more bother.
It did make one wonder why Shearer isn't so cruel about other teams he's supposed to be analysing, although he obviously doesn't know them so well. Perhaps he should be given the chance to lead every club for eight games into relegation. Perhaps he will. Gary was certainly touting around his pal's services. After all but establishing the fact that Shearer is waiting for a consortium to take over – "who I can't name for confidentiality reasons" (ie their wives and bank managers don't yet know) – the intrepid presenter quizzed further. "Alan, would you consider another job in football?"
Gary, Alan already has another job in football. Might not be much, but it pays the bills. Still, nice try.Reuse content