Matt Butler: Robbie Savage is not poking fun at 606 callers – he's playing cliché bingo
View From the Sofa: 606 BBC Radio 5 Live
Here is a theory: Robbie Savage is a huge bingo fan. He may even play it while on air during 606, BBC Radio 5 Live's Saturday evening football phone-in. Except instead of playing with numbers, he is eyes-down on a sheet of paper full of football-related clichés while simultaneously contradicting every caller with schoolboy-style taunts of "no he didn't, no he didn't, no he didn't".
There was a clue to this hypothesis just before the seven o'clock news on Saturday. A West Bromwich Albion fan was talking about Steve Clarke not being to blame for their failure to take their chances against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago. "You can't legislate for that," the caller said. There was a brief pause. A rustle of paper. A barely audible "yes" from Savage. He had quite clearly completed a line.
Then all went back to normal. Darren Fletcher, Saturday's host, carried on saying that he didn't think Clarke would go, while asking Arsenal and West Ham fans respectively whether they "feared" for the rest of the season. Whatever the hosts said is clearly secondary to the real stars of the show – the callers. And while it may seem unfair to poke fun at members of the public, they do put themselves in the firing line by calling in.
As far as the Hammers fans were concerned, it seemed that for every claret-and-blue Cockney who phoned to say Sam Allardyce hasn't got a Scooby about how to get out of trouble, there were others, like Len for example, who ranted that people "should engage their brain before opening their maaf", and how "it really amazes me these days that people go off on one"... while going off on one for 10 minutes.
They were the highlights of the first half-hour of Saturday's episode – which in turn is the best part of 606. The emotions of the game are still running high and the post-match drinks haven't had too much of an effect on callers' verbal diarrhoea.
Savage the cliché-bingo fan would have been like a pig in the proverbial in the opening 30 minutes of Saturday's show. Before the first news break we'd had a "box to box", a "knee-jerk reaction" and a "downward spiral". And to his credit, he let the callers speak without butting in with "why? why? who says?", as he is wont to do later on.
Then there was Dean, the Arsenal fan, who tried to justify his side's 6-3 loss to Manchester City with rhetorical questions such as: "Who are top of the league?"
His arguments had merit, but they all tumbled down like a house of cards when he came out with what should be top of the tautology tree for ever more: "The team with the most points will win the league." The bombshell was met with cackles from Fletcher and Savage and the caller himself admitted he wished he hadn't said it.
But the best moment came in the first five minutes, from Christian, a Sunderland fan. He was pleased with the goalless draw at West Ham and declared that before Gus Poyet arrived, the team had been "Marmite". Whatever did he mean? A team that divides opinion? Viscous and brown? Salty? It was none of the above. "We were all over the place," Christian revealed. The hosts glossed over it, preferring to wax lyrical about West Ham's plight. But you can bet the word wouldn't have been on Savage's bingo card.
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