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How do you solve a problem like Match of the Day?

It might not scan as well as How do you solve a problem like Maria? but the BBC have a problem and they know it. The news today from the BBC that they have dropped Colin Murray as host of MOTD2 and replaced him with Mark Chapman shows that they are ready to tinker with the franchise in an attempt to restore it to its former glory. The problem though isn’t just with the Sunday version which has never been the same since Adrian Chiles but the flagship Saturday show is now lagging behind Sky in terms of quality analysis.

Sky have the best pundits and the best presentation team. Even if you takeaway their live coverage which is fronted by Ed Chamberlin, David Jones or Jeff Stelling with a pundit team including the likes of Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness, Sky still has the better highlights show. So lets compare MOTD with Goals on Sunday which is the direct comparison.

Goals on Sunday is fronted by Ben Shepherd and the legend that is Chris Kamara. The show is two hours long (including adverts) so in terms of time on screen it is pretty similar to MOTD which is often one and a half hours with no adverts although GoS also shows the goals from the lower leagues and SPL. Goals on Sunday has a rotation of guests which is usually two people either still involved or involved in football in the past.

They talk about their careers and analyse the games which Chris Kamara leads. They get far more in depth than their MOTD counterparts and the show seems far more informative than MOTD. Along with being more informative it also doesn’t get stale due to the guests being different week in, week out so the perspectives are always different. The guests also have the scope to talk about events in their footballing pasts leading to funny stories like Ray Parlour calling Gareth Southgate ‘big nose’ and then being sold by him a couple of weeks later and of course the many accidental swear words which is only funny to see the presenters reactions.

Match of the Day has become stagnant. We know the names, the voices and the faces. They have become complacent and whilst I have no issue with Gary Lineker per se I do feel that everything seems all old boys club. I can’t remember the last time two of the panelists on MOTD argued with one another but we get it on Sky a lot with the likes of Souness, Neville and Redknapp disagreeing quite openly.

I’d love to see MOTD become the place for football highlights once more and I suppose if you just want the highlights it does the job but you never feel like you’ve learned anything after watching, where as with Goals on Sunday you do feel that you’ve learned and been entertained.

Now as Colin Murray has been ditched for Mark Chapman (who is in a similar mold) it seems like a relatively pointless move for me. MOTD needs a proper revamp as papering over the cracks just isn’t doing the job. I do wonder if James Richardson has ever been approached or even has any interest but I think his style of presenting would go down very well on MOTD2 and personally I’d love him to front football as a whole but the BBC would never go down that route…or would they…?

No. No they wouldn’t and that my friends is a shame for all of us.

As for pundits Alan Hansen was the man. The important word there is was. He’s become lazy and the rest of the BBC lot have never really offered any insight. They aren’t going to attract any of the Sky lot over and losing Lee Dixon was a blow so they need to find a fresh face whose willing to put the work in and not rest on their laurels with lazy cliches. Who that person is I don’t know but Matt Holland is criminally underused. Smart and puts the work in. If the BBC want to blow up MOTD and make it good again Matt Holland wouldn’t be a bad place to start…

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  1. James Knibbs James Knibbs

    I think the pundits need changing, i enjoyed Pat Nevin last sunday and his opinion on the rooney pen incident @ spurs and why it wssnt given and it was good to see but Murray who i like by the way just wouldnt understand what he was getting at.

    I agree with James, that the problem is with it being on the main tv channel, they cant do much with it, unless they bring in a red button option for more comments by pundits after the main show has finished.

    I hope ITV dont get it back, the pundits apart from Dixon are awful and all the match commentators apart from maybe Champion who i did rate highly, just spout the same stats on the same teams whenever they have a live game in european or fa cup, plus at least MOTD have the sunday morning option as well, today i would of liked to have watched the highlights from saturday as i was out last night & i have yet to sort recording facilties still, but to my horror there was nothing even on ITV4 except old football and police chase programmes.

  2. James Berry James Berry

    I’m not sure how you’ve come to the conclusion that GOS has approximately the same run time as MOTD!

    The difficulty with MOTD is the time it is on. Ideally for us footy purests it would be on earlier than 10.15-10.30 on a saturday and would run for nearly 2 hours with indepth analysis. However, as ITV proved when it held football highlights it just doesn’t work if its on in primetime – not everyone thinks football is entertainment – and its impractical to have a 2 hour show until 1am on sunday morning (unless the BBC accepts that the majority of people now have Sky+/V+ type devices and so it doesn’t matter what time you broadcast)

    Assuming therefore that MOTD cannot escape from its current start time and duration, the program on a saturday by its very nature has to be brief and can’t go into detail. In some way, I think they would be better off ditching the analysis entirely on Saturday (so its more like the analysis sky does on its rolling saturday highlights from 8.30pm) and making MOTD2 a longer, more in depth affair (i.e. closer to the 2 hour GOS).

    The thing is that despite the general opinion that the BBC is bad at football, its does some football very well – the football league show is good and so is football focus. What do they have in common – no Linekar, Hansen, Lawrenson, Shearer. (I get so fed up with the questioning on MOTD, especially in September, when Gary asks “so QPR, will they be ok?” – how on earth do you know, its only September!!!).

    If I was the BBC I would kick Linekar off onto the Golf (he can’t make golf anymore boring than it already is), sack Lawrenson (who hasn’t played for Liverpool for 25 years and done nothing significant in football since, oh except as a defensive coach at Newcastle for a month arf arf) and Hansen who hasn’t played or managed for 22 years. They need people who are more up with the modern game – look at Sky, the oldest regular pundit they have is Souness (I think) who was managing as recently as 2006. Shearer can be saved, I have seen him do occassional good analysis and criticisms but having Linekar lead him does him no favours.

    However I don’t think the beeb will do much – I read this week that Hansen, Linekar an Lawro have all signed new deals recently.

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