Robin Scott-Elliot: Sky no longer feel the need to go hell for leather

View From The Sofa: Souness was a curmudgeonly comfort but this was a rather softer Super Sunday

Payback, as Sky chose to call yesterday's inter-city stramash, sounds like an option in a World of Leather sale, not the billing for the season's day of days. Never in a month of (Super) Sundays would you have expected the station that can find the meaning of life and death in Stoke against Wigan to morph into a bashful costermonger when gifted such an afternoon.

"Well," began Ed Chamberlain, the shiny, polite, safe young man who has replaced Richard Keys, "the title won't be won or lost today."

Since the departure of Keys and Andy Gray, there has been a less triumphal tone to Sky's coverage. But this season there also seems a realisation that actually there really is no need to reach for the broadcaster's bumper book of hyperbole. The Premier League may be vain, cash-obsessed, brash and flash but it is always entertaining. It's Russell Brand.

For the first hour of the new firm encounter at the Etihad Stadium there was a hint that it might be turning into a bad hair day for the nation's premier brand. Minds strayed from the pitch; was an advertising hoarding for City's shop promising "further reductions on selected items" a coded message to Carlos Tevez's suitors? Is it really a good time for a travel company to sell cruises?

Mario Balotelli may soon have time to book a sunshine break of his own, following a capricious cameo in a breathtaking second half of the first half of the afternoon. Sky's post-match man failed to broach the subject of the stamp while speaking to the Italian – self-preservation perhaps? – but Gary Neville was in no doubt about its impact.

"That's a huge moment in the title race," judged Neville of the Italian escaping punishment. Alongside Neville, Graeme Souness exuded an air of refined menace. "Gareth Barry's a girl's blouse," is a summary of his view of the City midfielder's part in Tottenham's second goal. Then he chewed up and spat out Howard Webb too.

There is, in Souness's punditry, a suggestion of why he has not matched his playing success in management. Here is a man who cannot fathom weakness nor understand anyone failing to match his standards. Manchester United, he said, would win because that is the only result any team with title aspirations could entertain and if you doubted him he would see you round the back.

The second half of the double bill lacked the drama of the opener, but went as demanded by Souness and matched the Premier League norm for improving as it progressed. Despite second-half flurries, it cannot have been easy viewing for the home support.

Yesterday was about the season's big three and which of the north London neighbours sit among that rank was adroitly captured by a shot of Arsène Wenger after Robin van Persie shot wide. Wenger placed his head in his hands. And kept it there. There was no payback, just a world of lather for the Frenchman.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence