Matt Gatward: Smithy is funny but Collymore's specs are hilarious

The View From The Sofa: Europa League/Sport Relief five/BBC1

Football coverage on Channel Five, or Five as they insist on being called these days – like Smithy, they know it works better to go by a single name – was cringe-inducingly bad when it first hit the air. Cheap sets, tacky graphics and John Barnes mumbling like Amy Winehouse used to make for a painful evening's viewing.

Not any more. Things have progressed nicely down Five way if Thursday's coverage of Liverpool against Lille in the Europa League was anything to go by. Barnes has been moved on and Colin Murray hosts the coverage, proving that a trained presenter does a better job of presenting than a trained footballer (Murray would not be allowed to play up front for Aston Villa, would he? Although if Emile Heskey can, maybe he's got a chance).

Pat Nevin does a fine turn as the half-time-full-time analyst, mixing tactical insight with a wee bit of gentle humour and banter (although why he borrows Channel 4 Cricket's video truck is never explained). And Dave Woods (formerly the BBC's rugby league man) and John Scales (formerly Liverpool's central defender) make a decent double act in the commentary box, both remaining largely cliché-free and aware of the ebb and flow of the action.

If Scales had shown such tactical nous during his playing days, maybe Liverpool's wait for a league title would have come to a halt during his spell at Anfield.

Of course, it wasn't seamless. Stan Collymore is Five's man in the studio alongside Murray and has mastered the art of saying little that isn't predictable. Although, in truth, it was hard to take in anything he said during the half-hour match build-up (during which time there were no fewer than an incredible five advert breaks) as it was impossible not to stare agog at his new Dennis Taylor-style specs. Fabio Capello he ain't. Thankfully, somebody from the Five crew – presumably after they had picked themselves up from the studio floor where they'd been rolling around clutching their sides – must have asked Stan to ditch the bins because by half-time they'd disappeared, leaving us to hang on his every word. (Thinking about it, maybe he should have left them on.)

The whole Five team are also unashamedly pro the British clubs competing in Europe (more supporters than reporters). It would grate if it were just favouritism but there is a whiff of desperation too, as Five know elimination for Liverpool and Fulham knocks Five from their football perch for another season as well. It's always better to bow out gracefully.

Should David Beckham's Achilles injury force him to bow out there will always be a career in acting after his role in Smithy's Sport Relief sketch on Friday. Becks and Smithy (James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame) share flower-arranging, a bubble bath, a bed and each other's pyjamas during the skit, in which Smithy wins Coach of the Year Award on Sports Personality night. Tom Daley is splashed in the face, Andy Murray is smashed at tennis.

Smithy's rant at the gathering of sports stars and their loss of focus is priceless. Coe, Flintoff, Redgrave, Radcliffe, Giggs all play along in good spirit. To Flintoff: "Gonna stop playing now, Freddie, cos your knee's a bit poorly? Your [drinking] arm's OK, though, isn't it?" To Coe: "Look who it is. Bet you're pleased with yourself with your 2012 and your lordship. I remember when you were just a runner mugging off Steve Ovett."

If you missed it, download it from iTunes. Mugged off you won't be since the £3 heads to Sport Relief.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high