Robin Scott-Elliot: Collymore excels with Ajax while England are taken to the cleaners

Europa League, Channel 5 / Six Nations, BBC

Sir Alex Ferguson, or SAF as Manchester United insist he is called in order to combat Chelsea's bid to corner the potentially lucrative managerial initials market, made a mistake last week. For someone who knows his Bordeaux from his Beaujolais, his grasp of soft drinks is less firm if the untouched glass of orange juice throughout his interview with Jim Rosenthal on Channel 5 is anything to go by.

I have AVB down as an orange squash sort of a guy but not SAF. Rosenthal left his alone too and there they sat, two large orange glasses in the middle of a dark, moodily lit room as SAF told JR why appearing on C5 was OK.

Channel 5 are desperate to be liked, and to matter. Anyone involved over the two legs with Ajax was made to promise it was great to be on the channel and great to be playing on a Thursday.

Stan Collymore took it seriously – are you watching Alan Shearer? – going to see Ajax three times in preparation and doing exhaustive research into who was playing (and who wasn't). Collymore may be a decent pundit, but it is hard to be sure as Channel 5 don't have the confidence to stay in studio for any length of time. Instead we have to play "Where's Pat?" as the diminutive ex-Scotland winger Pat Nevin pops up on the touchline, then in a TV truck. It's a waste of one of the game's more intelligent thinkers.

The BBC have the same approach to the Six Nations, scattering pundits all over Twickenham. Their game was "Where's Andy?" The trouble was that Andy sat still. With no Prince Harry around – the Beeb's usual go-to cutaway at Twickers – Farrell Snr stepped into the breach. If Owen Farrell featured at the centre of on-field events, the next shot would be of dad. Owen did plenty which meant Andy is due an appearance fee.

There was no doubt this was a Big Game. One of the preview films contained a helicopter, explosions and a collapsing cliff, TV code for this is serious. In the commentary box Eddie Butler and Brian Moore, the Antony and Cleopatra of broadcasting, bicker and bitch but they belong together. They are a thoroughly entertaining double act. Moore was on Desert Island Discs yesterday and admitted that he could start an argument on a deserted island.

It was a Great Game, bruisingly entertaining from start to finish, although the endless and inconclusive replays of David Strettle's last hurrah stripped some of the drama from the finale. The last act was overdrawn.

Pre-TV replays, the referee would have made an instant, gut decision and the game would have bowed out on an immediate dramatic high, leaving Inverdale, Guscott, Davies and Co to stir their thoughts into the controversy. They had their own intuitions, founded on lifetimes in the game, as to whether it was a score but had to agree that inconclusive replays meant a try could not be given. TV decisions may be right for rugby, but for the viewer they have torn away an element of the swings of fortune that make sport so endlessly enthralling.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?