Match of the Day has come in for a bit of stick over the last week for being too cosy and comfortable. Well, there was nothing comfortable or cosy about the BBC's The League Cup Show on Wednesday night. In fact, it made for very painful viewing indeed.
The match of the day (all right, evening) on Wednesday was pretty indisputably Liverpool v Northampton in the Carling Cup, when the League Two side knocked out Woy Hodgson's not-so-mighty Reds at a rain-drenched Anfield. So, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Beeb would have made one of the League Cup's biggest shocks in recent memory the centrepiece of their coverage in the 45-minute slot. Not so. We were treated to about two minutes, which comprised of clips of all four goals and a couple of penalties from what we can only imagine was a dramatic, nerve-shredding shoot-out in front of the Kop. But 120 seconds doesn't allow much scope for tension-building or nail-chewing.
If you had mislaid the biccy tin in the kitchen you may have settled down on the sofa just in time to catch Manish Bhasin and Mark Bright, the "expert" guest, giving their in-depth analysis to make up for the lack of action. In-depth? There were deeper puddles on the Anfield turf.
Bright must have had a wager with a mate that he could say "you know" every three seconds – his pal won't be taking that bet again – and if you could ignore that irritant (not easy) and focus on his other words all he did was tell us what happened in the match. Handy if you'd blinked and missed the brief highlights, true, but surely not the job of an analyst?
Then Bright pointed out that the Carling Cup was one of only two cups Liverpool could win this season, conveniently forgetting the (admittedly forgettable) Europa League. All-in-all it was about as interesting as his Tweeting that day when he informed his followers that he had had lunch at a Brazilian restaurant and even took a picture of the meal in question. Fascinating.
At least the BBC's coverage of snooker's World Open has been worth tuning in to. Willie Thorne and Dennis Taylor make a fine double act in the commentary box, giving the viewer a good insight into the players' thought processes (except for Ronnie O'Sullivan's, of course. What goes on in his head is anyone's guess).
Ronnie played Stephen Hendry on Friday in the last 16 in an enthralling match and Ronnie's post-match interview was priceless. None of the bland, meaningless clichés that footballers mumble out after a game for O'Sullivan, who was honest, funny and self-deprecating. "I was cueing all over the shop really, I was twitching, I mean everyone twitches but if you're cueing well, the twitches they don't happen. There was a red over the hole I missed. I'm just hacking it around a bit."
And could he raise his game for the next round? "Well, it's all downhill now, innit? I've played Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, two of the game's legends, the greatest players, and I've hit a 147. It's over now, innit? It don't get any better." And off he went to hack in another maximum on the practice table.
The first-to-three format works a treat. It's snooker's equivalent of Twenty20 and is short and sweet and the Beeb showed all of Ronnie v Hendry – not just a couple of reds and the last pink and black. That would have been odd, wouldn't it?