Robin Scott-Elliot: Does Crooks know the final score – or is this the end?

View From The Sofa: Final Score/Champions League, BBC 1/ITV 1

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Question one: who was loser in all last week's financial cut and thrust , statements, dairy dilemmas, sound and fury? Question two: is Garth Crooks turning into Colonel Kurtz as football hurtles towards its apocalypse?



Final Score is not a regular stopping point for this column, what with it being the poor man's version of Jeff Stelling and Co on Sky, although there are signs of Stelling going a bit Citizen Kane. So if Stelling is Welles then Crooks is Brando, a brooding, spreading presence on the Final Score sofa.

On Saturday, as Mark Chapman – a rich man's Colin Murray – did his introductions, Garth stared moodily into the distance, or rather off screen towards a hidden monitor showing the Chelsea game. It seemed like an age before he said anything, this once bright, probing pundit now being eaten up by (or, by the look of it, having eaten) the iniquities of the great game he once graced. He sat menacingly and unmoveable, lost in dark thoughts as the programme took its course and goals flew in from Fratton Park to Deepdale to Bo'ness.

Possibly this explains why the BBC seems so keen on employing Robbie "I'm quite a character, you know" Savage. He is to be cast in the Martin Sheen role, sent on a mission into a dangerous studio, with only soft furnishings as cover, to get rid of a rogue pundit or perish in the attempt and spend eternity trapped in the underworld, otherwise known as the red button.

There used to be a man at the BBC called Kevin who had the job at live football games of pressing a button to make the little offside flag appear on screen. I like to think he has an equivalent at Sky, the guy who frantically winds the "Breaking News" ticker, although it is not a job you would have wanted over the last couple of weeks. He must be exhausted.

So back to question one and the Rooney saga – if a week can be a saga, what with it being a long time in football. There has been one loser who has gone almost unnoticed. The group stages of the Champions League do not offer much in the way of enticing games, no Wonderful Wednesdays or Terrific Tuesdays, but Tottenham's trip to play Internazionale, Harry's pretenders against the defending champions, had real potential and so ITV leapt on it. And it turned out to be even better than they could have wished for, except all eyes were fixed grimly on Old Trafford over on Sky. What sort of reception would Fergie get? Would the bullocking Rooney get booed for fancying a get together with a sky-blue herd of heffers?

Back in San Siro, Marcel Desailly, an engaging if slightly batty pundit, kissed Samuel Eto'o as the Inter striker passed ITV's presentation position on the side of the pitch. Now that the Premier League is so populated by foreign players it should only be a matter of time before this charming practice is adopted properly over here and Alan Shearer is greeting Andy Carroll with similarly amorous enthusiasm.

As events unfolded at pace in Italy – every flick back to ITV from Old Trafford saw another goal – the United game turned into the usual plodding Champions League encounter. There was much better entertainment on ITV and a half-time analysis from Gareth Southgate that underlined his rapidly improving on-screen presence. Live presenting away from the security of a studio is a skill that few master but little seems to faze Adrian Chiles and, with Southgate growing into his role and Desailly spreading his love, it was a slick effort, but one that was upstaged by events elsewhere.

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