The worst thing about Newcastle v Liverpool? Robbie Savage
Daniel O'Donnell reflects on Robbie Savage's commentary during Newcastle's 1-0 win against Man United
‘This game needs that. Someone to smash somebody.’
Those, ladies and gentleman, are the wise words of Robbie Savage as the expert football opinion co-commentator for BT Sport at the Newcastle v Liverpool match at the weekend.
Looking back at Savage’s career I suppose no one should be too surprised that these are his views. But why are we being made to listen to them? What credentials does he have?
Isn’t the job of either commentator to offer entertainment, narrative or some sort of football insight?
Saying someone needed to be thrown up in the air (which Balotelli was) was the equivalent of forcing someone to down their pint at a champagne reception in order to ‘get the party started’.
Over the World Cup, there were some treats on the punditry front. The effortless cool of Clarence Seedorf who was not only spot-on with what he was saying (you don’t have Champions League trophies spilling out of your house for nothing) but also very credible and eloquent on camera. Thierry Henry offered good insight to striker movement when he wasn’t busy showing everyone he didn’t want to be sat next to the Worthington Cup winner.
For once, analysts were teaching the fans something. And actually that’s a trend that’s welcome, we’ve seen Gary Neville excel at Sky, Danny Murphy and Brad Friedel are good value and there are even occasions where journalists and others that are not ex-footballers offer something, too.
A far cry from Alan Shearer describing moves on Match of the Day, where we learn, well, nothing at all.
Savage seems to come from a different school though, not the European Class of Seedorf, Henry or even Fabio Cannavaro once he got used to the cameras, nor Shearer’s Catchphrase school. No. Savage belongs to the complaining comprehensive, where he incessantly whines at every turn.
It’s as if he doesn’t realise football is a game full of mistakes, often (nay, always) one that is decided by just that – as it was on Saturday. He should know, that was something he was an expert at.
I was at Craven Cottage last week where I was particular fascinated by this one fan. He was agitated, biting his nails, jumping up and down and cursing every time anyone did something wrong. It was tense. The situation? Fulham were 2-0 up with little over 15 minutes to go and in absolutely no danger of losing the match. Someone really needed to remind him of what was actually happening, his health might be at stake.
Savage resembles that, the fan in the stands shouting profanities every time a player doesn’t pass to where his finger is pointing. Even if Savage said anything sensible, it’s lost under disguise of his constant moaning – white noise and intelligible.
I’m not criticising Savage’s football career or the odd appearance on Match of the Day. He worked hard, bereft of much technical ability, and made a groove for himself. Though in a position that relies solely on talent – he’s out of his depth. No different from that impassioned fan blinded by allegiance. Where everything is life and death.
So why not get the fan in to have a go? Let Savage go and irritate a former World Cup winner somewhere else where we don’t have to listen.
Failing that, it’ll be okay because remember, we’ve got Michael Owen.
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