Ridiculous Cliches in Football Commentary

First of all, an ex-player on tv does not automatically become a ‘pundit’. Just like a squirrel at the stable doesn’t become a horse.

Every week we’re treated to some absolute pearls of wisdom from the various ‘pundits’ on TV, giving their valuable insight on all the goings on of the top leagues. Here’s a list of some of their most inane and sometimes senseless phrases.

1. “Yes John…” – This is my earliest memory of watching football analysis on TV. I’ve been scarred for life. Shebby Singh on the ESPNStar network prefaces everything he says with these lovely words. Even when asked a question by a man named Andrew. Or Paul. Or Ravichandran for that matter. I can only imagine what havoc he’s wreaking at Blackburn (What on Earth were they thinking?!).

2. “A Relegation 6-pointer” – A favorite of the mathematically inclined (or challenged, depending on which way you look at it). Generally in reference to a game between direct rivals for a spot in the League table. Probably based on the logic that when, say, QPR plays Reading and QPR win (remember, this is just an example, anything can happen) they get 3 points for the win, plus Reading’s 3 for them not winning. Might as well give them the 2 points Wigan dropped at Stoke, while we’re at it.

3. “Does the dirty-work in midfield” – Sergio Busquets does not work in sewage management and Pepe doesn’t beat up people for a living. At least not everyday. Defensive midfielders defend using their positional intelligence, reading of the game, anticipation and skill. The same as full time defenders. To call it doing the ‘dirty-work’ is terribly lazy. In fact, watching Yaya Toure cleverly intercept a pass is often very pleasing to the eye. Paul Parker needs to expand his vocabulary to more than 23 words.

4. “Finds the Back Of The Net” – Because nobody knew where it was up until that point. Thank god for Michu, or the Emirates faithful would be wondering where the net was, along with the rest of their team. Admittedly, it is a perfectly legitimate way of describing the goal, but its not the only way! Variations include “Puts the ball in the BOTN”, “the keeper has to pick the ball out of the BOTN”, “Is in the BOTN”. All equally drab and annoying.

5. “Doubled the Lead/Halved the deficit” – This only works when 1-0 becomes 2-0 or 2-0 becomes 2-1. Just say what it is. This was creative in the 90’s. Now, its tedious. Not all of us are math geniuses, so we’d like to be told what the score is please. None of this fractions and multiples crap.

6. “We’re halfway through the first half!” – This is just horrendous. If you have nothing to say at around the twenty two and a half minute mark, then sip your coffee, eat your biscuits, or call up your wife to say you despise her. Not this. Serves the sole purpose of telling the viewers that the game is as boring as Stoke vs West Ham. Or its actually Stoke vs West Ham. Also, again, fractions.

7. “Scored at both ends” – Often used by smug commentators to describe a player scoring an own goal and one for his team. They seem to think of it as incredibly creative. Until you realize that the a striker who has scored two goals, for his own team, in either half has also, in effect, scored at both ends. Martin Skrtel’s match performance reviews need to be worded differently next time.

8. “High speed game of chess” – Sound familiar? That’s because this one is universal. Every sport where the people involved start to use their brains to try and out think their opposition, becomes chess, played at high speed. By real people, on grass, with 50000 people watching. Or short men, mounted on horses, cracking the whip on the poor animal. Or men in hi-tech cars, driving very fast. Because of course, thinking is so unheard of in any sport other than chess. “High speed Age of Empires” anyone? No? Okay.

9. “That’s a stone wall penalty!” – Used almost every time a penalty is given that wasn’t in the slightest bit controversial. Quite frankly, it makes no sense. What does a stone wall have to do with the obviousness of a foul inside the box? And when did it become an adjective? Completely absurd. And who builds stone walls these days anyway?

10. “He’s lost a yard or two of pace” – A yard is a measure of distance. Not speed. That’s like saying the speed limit is 50 miles. Except you have no idea exactly how much pace he had originally and how much he’s lost. Frequently used in relation to Fernando Torres.

There’s a number of other such delights that are dished out, ‘week-in week-out’, but these are the ones that I can think of right now, which are either over-used to the point of being infuriating or are simply puzzling. But amongst all the dreary fare, there is some hope. Ray Hudson is original if nothing else and thoroughly entertaining. This one from Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Real Madrid in 2010 is especially brilliant (in as high pitched a voice as you can imagine):
“Real Madrid’s defense stretched out like spandex on Miami beach, and Casillas is left Naked!”.

Now that’s what I call good prime time television.

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About dittob

A football observer with allegiances to only one club. I like watching teams, coaches and their systems.. all from the comfort of my sofa. Armchair punditry and more.
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