As Arsene Wenger is wont to remark after signing another elfin playmaker, plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose. The Premier League is back and Match of the Day has gone all retro with its titles, flickering images of the great players and managers to have graced our great grounds; Best, Matthews, Cantona, Robson, Crouch.
As they fade away there are the familiar faces, Lineker, Hansen and Shearer, on the familiar sofa with the familiar knowing intros. Shearer was soon called on and displayed that incisive touch that makes him a fixture on the nation's most popular football programme.
There was a "rude awakening", a "go down fighting" and a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" sprinkled through his analysis. Alongside him, Hansen nodded sagely. Yesterday, they were apparently all off round Alan's house and Shay was going to be there (it's all first names on MOTD). Perhaps it was Alan's regular season-opening BBQ, a sort of Community Sausage for pundits and Manchester City reserve keepers.
Shearer – it's much more formal here – actually impressed during the World Cup, especially as England's campaign plunged towards its German nadir. He got off the (creosoted) fence and put the boot into players and managers. He looked like he cared. Of course, pundits should not be expected to endlessly grumble, moan and generally harrumph about what's going on out there – otherwise they would all turn into Ian Botham – but it was good to see Shearer stretch himself. Back home, though, that spark of fury was gone. Quite possibly he was saving it to light yesterday's barbeque.
Both terrestrial broadcasters had decent World Cups – give or take the odd missed goal – although ITV did have to fill its traditional role of taking a degree of the kicking that would otherwise have gone England's way. Adrian Chiles and his team are now on their late-summer break until the Champions League proper returns and headed for the beach on something of a high, thanks largely to Gabriel Clarke.
There is something about Clarke that appears to unsettle Fabio Capello. The Italian has been coaxed by Clarke into putting his loafers in it twice, first back in South Africa over John Terry's one-man mutiny, and last week over David Beckham's imposed retirement. Clarke must have been barely able to believe his luck as Capello blundered straight into his heffalump trap.
What is it about England managers and the country's mother tongue? Glen Hoddle was back on Sky on Saturday with his not-quite English to enlighten viewers. "Tevez for me is somebody who is playing up front on his own," he said at one point, but then manager-speak is one of the great traditions of the game, a reassuringly garbled presence.
Tradition is not taken lightly on the BBC. Last week, it chose to mark Princess Anne's 60th birthday with a forelock-tugging interview as part of the Inside Sport strand. She once won the corporation's Sports Personality of the Year after becoming the European eventing champion. Four years ago, her daughter followed suit after winning the world championship. Oddly, the other times British riders have won the world championships they have not added the Sports Personality of the Year trophy. Watching footage of both rides some three decades apart, it was striking how similar the commentaries were. Not a whisper of lèse-majesté, as Wenger might say.Reuse content