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Day: February 16, 2011

Replacing Richard Keys & Andy Gray – a fortnight on…

So here we are a fortnight or so since Andy Gray was dismissed by Sky and Richard Keys followed him out of the door They are working together over on talkSPORT with a daily 10-1 show that is probably rather interesting. I will admit to not having listened to it but I think they’ve found a good home there and it was a great coup by the broadcaster to bring them on board but enough about them. This ramble is about what Sky have done to replace the face and one of the voices of Sky’s football coverage.

Presenting wise we’ve seen a three-headed monster of David Jones, Ed Chamberlain and Jeff Stelling. Ben Shephard has not really been asked to step up and this says a lot. I have always been a Ben Shephard fan but watching him on Goals on Sunday last Sunday it was cringing. He would interrupt guest Big Sam Allardyce all the time and not let him finish his point. Pretty shocking for a trained journalist certainly when you consider Chris Kamara sitting alongside him was never guilty of that. Bn Shephard has talents but he needs to learn (in my opinion) that people want to listen to the guests on a show and not the presenter. Just calm down and you’ll be great as you do ask good questions but seem to keen to answer them yourself.

So this leaves us with three and no surprise that Jeff Stelling is involved to some degree. Jeff is a class act but doesn’t want to build up a big portfolio of live football because of his Soccer Saturday and countdown commitments. If Jeff were to become the new face of football on Sky Sports then no-one would complain but I don’t see it going that way. So that leaves us with two.

And from those two I think I’m leaning on Ed Chamberlain’s side. I think he seems more at ease than David Jones (whom I’ve always liked) and I’m very interested to see how Ed develops over the next few weeks. David Jones I’d think has the inside track long-term if they hire in-house but after a couple of EPL weekends I think Ed is looking great. I still think they should go outside and bring in James Richardson but we’ll see what they do in the summer.

Replacing Andy Gray though has not been impressive with so far Alan McInally, Glenn Hoddle and Ray Wilkins all being asked to step up to a co-commentator role that they just aren’t suited for. Ray Wilkins did the Milan v Spurs game last night and just wasn’t great. Terrific studio pundit and I like him a lot in that role but I didn’t think he added any real insight sitting up on the gantry. Hoddle put his foot in his mouth and that won’t have gone down well in Sky and as for Alan McInally, another pundit I like but not sure he brings anything to the gantry. I’d still love Chris Kamara to be brought back as he was great on the football league a few years back.

Sadly great co-commentators are hard to find in football when you consider the likes of Craig ‘every ref is an idiot – every time’ Burley, ‘Mark ‘I like to complain at everything’ Bright and Chris ‘Whinges a lot’ Waddle are all getting a lot of live work on big fixtures. Jim Beglin is the best one out there but not sure Sky will go out and hire him. Much more likely to keep trying ex-pros to see which ones work and give you real insight during a game.

So replacing Keys doesn’t look like an issue but replacing Andy Gray still looks like something Sky have to worry about.

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