Sky consistently peddles the Premier League as the best league that has ever existed, anywhere in the world, ever. Yet the standard of punditry has arguably never been worse.
The analysis of games on Sky is becoming increasingly difficult to watch. The nadir undoubtedly being The Final Word With Andy Gray, which is often deemed more important than the first half of a live game from La Liga. Much of the discussion is at worst racist and at best jingoistic, “Is it a foreign problem?” is a question repeated time and time again by Richard Keys. In the recent Everton vs. Man U game, Andy Gray referred to Gary and Phil Neville as “proper footballers, not like these foreigners giving each other kisses”, because they didn’t look at each other in the tunnel. The nonsense oft spouted about diving is already well documented, and even when it is acknowledged that English players dive as much as the continentals, they are blamed for bringing it into our game, as if this is justification. What next? “I was just following orders”?
Champions League coverage is slightly more bearable with Souness and Gullit, often acting as if Redknapp is not even there, which can only be applauded. However, Keys still does his level best to ruin it. The Chelsea vs. Inter game was particularly harrowing. Before the game Sky showed a documentary entitled ‘The Special One’, then when the coverage began they spent about 30 minutes discussing the return of Mourinho, to which Keys’ quipped ‘How does he make it all about him?”. To his eternal credit, Souness chastised Keys and actually requested to talk about the game.
It’s hardly surprising that after nearly 20 years Keys and Gray are running out of things to say. So much so that Gray now feels the need to say “and I really mean that” after a lot of his points, does he not mean the other things? Or my personal favourite, a relatively new phenomenon I think “and I say that’s a great (blank), because that’s what it is”. Cheers Andy. Jamie Redknapp has no such excuse, specialising in banal hyperbole and supporting Spurs, with a vocabulary seemingly consisting of only “top, top” and “literally”. There is also no need for Tyler to scream “IT’S LIVE” before every game.
It’s not that Sky are any worse than ITV, BBC or ESPN, just that we get to witness their flaws far more frequently. Jamie Redknapp would be far less annoying if he was on once, rather than three times a week. Radio and Press coverage is also just as bad, but the collective musings of Alan Green and Martin Samuel should never be repeated.