Unloved BBC and Carling Cup should take a bow
Let’s hear it for the Carling Cup, the surprise new hit of the season. Who would have thought the least regarded of television’s football offerings would end up resurrecting the live game as unmissable entertainment?
The League Cup in its various guises has been subjected to all sorts of indignities over the years – ignored, unappreciated, treated experimentally or downright insultingly – yet last week’s two semi-finals were about as good as televised football gets. Undoubtedly it helped that one was a Manchester derby and the buy canada goose jacket winnipeg other featured 10 goals and a crazy script, but the average price of canada goose jacket BBC must have been delighted with buy canada goose jacket nyc all the commitment, comebacks and controversy on show.
It is always a risk for can i wash my canada goose jacket the corporation to present any sort of live football on a main primetime channel in the evening: even FA Cup finals tend to send people to sleep these days and they buy canada goose coat uk still take place on Saturday afternoons. Forcing the nation to watch dull, repetitive fare when the viewers could be sitting down in front of Holby City or Traffic Cops would clearly have had licence payers up in arms, yet though the BBC did not seem to have picked a winner with the Carling Cup authentic canada goose outlet online it ended up with back-to-back games that everyone was still talking about days afterwards, a throwback to the era when live football was a rarity and most people would be watching because there were only two or three other canada goose coat 1000 calorie meal plans channels with nothing much on.
It was also a pleasure to discover the BBC still know how to cover a live game, despite having to work mostly with highlights in recent years. Sky are the live experts now, but they tend to frisk a game while presenting it, teasing out all the nuggets of controversy and drama so as to bash viewers repeatedly over the head with them before their attention wanders. The Beeb did that old-fashioned thing of letting the pictures speak for themselves and the drama unfold at its own pace, without too many replays, over-excitable co-commentators or unnecessary carping at referees.
It is possible that in Mark Lawrenson the BBC possess the world’s least excitable co-commentator, a man who might struggle to inject urgency into his voice in the event of the commentary box catching fire, yet anyone who has listened to Andy Gray for longer than about 10 minutes would find that soothing. Take a bow son, take a bow. Just about the only fault with the BBC’s handling of both games was the false note sounded by Guy Mowbray referring to his sidekick as Lawro at almost every opportunity. The BBC doesn’t do modern very well, and shouldn’t try. It should concentrate on being a welcome relief from Sky, not offering more of the same.
Sky has the next leg of the Manchester derby and whichever team makes it to the final to face Aston Villa should give Wembley an occasion to remember. The Carling Cup seems to have found its feet in recent seasons. Managers take it seriously and good teams want to win it. Sir Alex Ferguson puts this down to finally stumbling on a successful format. “The competition has had a resurgence because teams that are in Europe can now come in later,” the Manchester United manager has said. “We used to have two-legged games at the start of the season that were an absolute waste of time; you found yourself playing Rotherham or whatever. If you win one game now, you are in a quarter-final.”
That may explain United’s renewed enthusiasm, though none of the other semi-finalists have European commitments this season. All wanted to win the trophy, and Sam Allardyce, in charge of a side one might have thought would be preoccupied with avoiding relegation homesite, even went so far as to say the league could take a back seat while Blackburn concentrated on trying to reach Wembley.
This is refreshing, just like the FA Cup in days of yore, and that could be part of the reason for the turnaround. The FA Cup is no longer what it used to be. Small to middling teams find it difficult to break the top-four stranglehold most seasons, while the top four are usually more interested in the Champions League come April and May. Priorities lie elsewhere. It could be that the newly compact Carling Cup occupies a more convenient part of the season, a mid-winter slot when there are no major distractions. This column expressed the view several months ago that if the FA Cup wished to reclaim its old popularity it ought to give up the unequal struggle with the Champions League and relocate itself to the portion of the season currently occupied by the Carling Cup. On reflection, that might be unfair. The Carling Cup has done nothing to deserve it.
Neville’s lack of class shows limits of speaking your mind
Given that footballers earn vastly more than everyone outside the banking industry these days, would it not have made more sense for supporters to take a banner to the Emirates imploring the players not to forget the Haitian emergency?
One supposes the well-meaning, non-political yet still faintly patronising gesture by Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna and William Gallas after the Bolton game will be viewed as buy canada goose jacket toronto a welcome sign of footballers living in the real world and helping a good cause, yet when Robbie Fowler showed support for Liverpool dockers in can you wash a canada goose jacket in the washer a similar way he was fined.
And when Kaká revealed he belonged to Jesus after winning a Champions League final, in contravention of the ban on T-shirt messages (not to mention third-party ownership), the authorities did nothing except breathe a sigh of relief that he had not pledged allegiance to anyone else with a beard. We do not want a game played by automatons and footballers should be encouraged to behave like human beings, yet the sport constantly finds itself having to clamp down on what might be termed extra-professional activities, mainly because players never know when to stop.
Take the hilarious escalation of the argument that has had Manchester tittering all week. There was nothing wrong with Gary Neville saying United had to let Carlos Tevez go because his price was too high – it is exactly the sort of forthright opinion supporters like to hear and most footballers shrink from uttering. Equally, Tevez was perfectly within his rights to respond in the way he did after his derby goal. But when Neville found he could not handle that and had to resort to adolescent crudity he invited censure for not acting his age, as well as making himself a target for all the ripe insults Tevez can i put my canada goose jacket in the dryer has lobbed enthusiastically back.
Funny, too, that Neville saw fit to comment so eloquently on City’s spending and Tevez’s value, matters that strictly speaking are none of his business, yet he refuses to engage with United supporters’ concerns about his own club. “It’s nothing to do with us at all,” he said when asked about the way United was being run. “We players never get involved in the financial side of things.” Really?