Shamik Das


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Revealed: Britain's worst commentator

David Pleat: Doesn't know his Austria from his El Salvador    Steve McClaren: The wally with the brolly

FOLLOWING this morning's Euro Fighting Talk, brilliant as ever, in which they asked who the best broadcaster of Euro 2008 has been, I thought I'd answer the question of who's been the worst.

While the Golden Mike award undoubtedly goes to ITV's Gabriel Clarke for his incisive, humourous and well-researched reports that take us behind the scenes at the top teams' training camps and onto the streets of Austria and Switzerland where he chills out, James Richardson style, perusing the hot sheets over a cappuccino while chatting to the fans.

Motty's been his usual excitable self, full of cliches and stats, his courtship of Mark Lawrenson continuing apace, though Jonathan Pearce seems to have gone down a decibel or two, more than likely caused by England's Alpine absence.

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for: Here are the nominations for the Gormless Mike award:- Mark Bright, Gordon Strachan, Garth Crooks, Andy O'Townsend, Jake Humphrey and the overwhelming favourites David Pleat and Steve McClaren.

Bright's voice is just plain annoying, as annoying and as McTownsend's is chavvy, while Strachan remains as whiny as ever, face contorted with rage as he rails against the world and everything in it.

Humphrey, meanwhile, is way out of his depth presenting the Match of the Day highlights show, which begs the question of whatever happened to Manish Bhasin, who looked so calm and assured when presenting highlights of the Ashes and cricket World Cup a year ago.

As for Garth Crooks, well, at least he's entertaining, in a laughing at him not with him kind of way. Perhaps he should go to the barbers and ask for another three-inch wide mohican, or maybe a William Gallas.

Enough frippery, onto the top two we go. The runners-up award goes to David Pleat, ITV's star summariser, for his frankly baffling inability to remember players' and even countries' names, a problem dating back to the 2002 World Cup, where he kept confusing Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Romario. And Romario wasn't even there.

Romario  Rivaldo (left) and Ronaldo  Ronaldinho

This time round, with no Brazil present, it is the Czechs who've flummoxed the former Luton Town boss. He's taken to calling Petr Cech "Pet-ra Cech", the female version of the Chelsea goalkeeper's name.

More worryingly, though, he refers to the Czech Republic as "the Republic of Czechoslovakia". Wrong on every level. Even Big Ron - the man Pleat replaced after his racist rant against Marcel Dessaily - knows that Czechoslovakia, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, no longer exists.

The winner, however, is England failure Steve McClaren. By a country mile. A unanimous decision and the only award the loser will ever win.

Where to begin? England's worst manager ever lecturing Europe's finest on how to win after his team failed to qualify, finishing joint third in the easiest qualifying group of all.

It's not just that he's a pathetic, cheesy-grinned Mike Baldwin wannabe, it's that he's being paid a cool £300,000 of licence-fee payers' money to spout his rubbish on the BBC. Whenever he's on the radio I just have to turn it off, lest I throw the wireless out the window after smashing it up.

But enough about McClaren, how about last night's action? Didn't I say Holland were the team to watch?! ;)

In another display of beautiful, attacking football they beat France 4-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals, Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder making it seven goals in five days against the two World Cup finalists, Thierry Henry's solitary strike the only downside.

France are now joint-bottom of Group C with Italy, their fates out of their own hands, though the world champions could have been eliminated had Adrian Mutu not missed a late penalty for Romania after Christian Panucci had cancelled out his earlier strike.

Watch extended highlights of Netherlands v France
Watch extended highlights of Romania v Italy

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