Matt Butler: Rearranging the chairs is not enough, Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer have had their day
View From The Sofa: Match of the Day BBC 1
It may have been left off many people's calendars, but it is a year ago on Tuesday that Match of the Day first broadcast from its ultra-modern, seemingly-designed-by-a-Crystal-Palace-fan studio in Salford.
And boy, were Gary Lineker and the two Alans, Shearer and Hansen, in the mood to poop an anniversary party on Saturday night.
There were no flowers, no fanfare – hardly even an introduction from the host Lineker of his two stooges, who were still not looking used to being perched in the office chairs that grace the Salford studio, as opposed to the plush couch they enjoyed in west London.
The first match on the list – Manchester United against Arsenal – gave grist to Hansen's "horrific defending" mill with Thomas Vermaelen's mistakes against Sir Alex Ferguson's side. "Total schoolboy stuff," the ex-Liverpool man said. Not that anyone blessed with a pair of eyes wouldn't have known that the Belgian had made an elementary error.
They rightly criticised Andre Santos for his Robin van Persie half-time shirt-swap (without the swap bit: RVP clearly wasn't too bothered about having Santos' shirt). But the fact the first scorer was Van Persie handed Shearer an open goal to fire home some genuine insight. His nugget of wisdom? "He is a very good player, Arsenal miss him." Cheers, Alan.
For the next game, it was more of the same from Shearer. On the Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas's decision to take off Jermain Defoe, with five goals this season and 10 in his last 11 games against Saturday's opponents Wigan, to a barrage of boos from the home support: "I was surprised he did that."
Please. Give us something – anything – to talk us through the manager's thoughts on the relative merits of his two forwards.
And herein lies the rub when it comes to Match of the Day. We can almost forgive Lineker's £15,000-a-year cab rides from London to Greater Manchester to host the show, because he is a skilful frontman who does his level best to get blood out of the metaphorical stones that sit opposite him.
And we could even overlook the fact Hansen trousers a five-figure sum every week for his "analysis" if he ever gave some actual insight. But he doesn't. And as for Shearer, if he had been as bad at scoring goals as he is at analysing them … well, insert your own Torres gag here.
The Beeb clearly has money so there is no reason why it cannot search for another set of analysts; ones that don't insult the intelligence of the watching public.
Gary Neville has proved on Sky Sports that ex-players can give intelligent analysis; views that tell us something we didn't already know. And at last summer's Euro 2012, ITV's pundits of choice, Gareth Southgate, Jamie Carragher and Roy Keane, gave a near-ideal triumvirate of good cop/bad cop/curmudgeonly Irishman that was as entertaining as it was informative.
But sadly it looks as if we are stuck with the two Alans. The Match of the Day mob may have been in Salford for only a year, but Hansen and Shearer look all too comfortable. Despite the lack of ergonomics in the chairs.
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