Gary Neville was the attraction of much praise last season for his performances on Sky’s Monday Night Football, making the weekly gameweek finale a must-watch for football fans.
Sky took it up a notch this summer with the acquisition of Jamie Carragher on the back of his retirement from football.
After unmeasurable expectation was put on BT Sport on the back of their strong promotion campaign over the summer, they ultimately failed to deliver on their season opener between Liverpool and Stoke. The signing of David James to their analysis team is the player equivalent of Barcelona favouring Francis Jeffers over Neymar.
Mark Halsey was pointless in the commentary box, more or less agreeing entirely with every decision his former colleague Martin Atkinson made – including implying he was happy the referee didn’t pull the players up on jersey-pulling.
Samuel Luckhurst provides a better review of BT Sport’s opener here, noting the matey cliquishness that was the downfall of Sky Sport’s original analysis team will no longer be tolerated, but may have already seeped into BT’s profile, with ‘Macca’, ‘Jamo’ and the overly pally Jake Humphrey who is clearly more suited to the pitlanes than the studio.
The “Jamos” and ‘Maccas” have already started, too. Sky Sports excel because back-slapping cliques won’t be tolerated post-Keys and Gray (Jamie Redknapp is possibly warned during commercial breaks) and such antics have made Match of the Day an embarrassment. Humphrey though, a disciple of the BBC, preached their word.
On MNF’s first return for the new season, the rapport between Carragher and Neville, managed intelligently by Ed Chamberlin, was akin to an academic upgrade on the Bill O’Herlify, John Giles and Eamon Dunphy trio that RTE has enjoyed for years.
Carragher is intelligent and despite the harsh Scouse twang, presents his opinions smoothly and articulately. Aside from the football, it’s moments like the below – a clever metaphor turned into playful slagging, rather than painfully forced ‘banter’ – that will always put this team above the rest.
Sky may have met its noisiest neighbours since its inception, but they ensured that one signing that will help them retain the title.