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TV Review: Power Ranking The English Premier League Commentators

TV Review: Power Ranking The English Premier League Commentators
By Gavin Cooney
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When Sky invented football in 1992, they reinvented the broadcasting of it.

Their technological advancements, from video links with managers to the ubiquity of their touchscreen, via Player Cam and 3DTV (remember those?) have forced their competition to chuck away their VCRs and stumble forth into the brave new age. Venerable BBC institution Match of the Day are struggling to keep up, unfortunately. Their analysis is staid and mundane, with approximately 45% of the digital fiddling consisting of the drawing of arrows in the direction a footballer is running, and another 50% dedicated to the pointless drawing of circles around players in midfield.

One thing that has largely remained the same, however, has been commentary. Bar it becoming incumbent on commentators to make a philosophical decision on whether or not to pronounce it 'Oooozil' or 'Uhhhhzil', it's largely the same gig that Barry Davies mastered back in the day.

So how does Match of the Day compare with their rivals Sky and BT in this department? Let's find out, as we rank the Premier League commentators across the three broadcasters.

1 - Martin Tyler (Sky) 

Case For: The last, lingering link to the Golden Age of the 1980s. Can be relied upon for the big moments. (See AGUEROOOOOOOO, Sergio). Has a catchphrase and FIFA experience.

Case Against: Dodgy, excruciating puns.

2 - Darren Fletcher (BT Sport)

Case For: After early scrapping with Ian Darke, has emerged as BT's main commentary, now shed of the burden of Fletch and Sav. Is now the best thing about BT's coverage.


Case Against: Partly responsible for Fletch and Sav. 

3 - Simon Brotherton (BBC)

Case For: Doesn't often get the big games, but this column thinks Brotherton is the Beeb's best option. His excitable nature adds to every game without being grating. Strikes the perfect balance between Motson's squawks and Pearce's melodrama.

Case Against: Not very well known. He does the commentary on the video below.



4 - Guy Mowbray (BBC)

Case For: After Motson took a back seat, has emerged as the Beeb's main man. Manages to ascend through the octaves with remarkable consistency. (See Liverpool's second goal against Spurs on Saturday as players queued up to score: LallANAAA....FIRRRRMIIINOOO....MANEEEEE!!!!!)



Case Against: Occasionally tries to squeeze in a few too many words.

5 - Steve Bower (BBC) 

Case For: Ascended from MUTV to the national consciousness. Delivery is assured, professional, and he is never flustered.

Case Against: A wee bit bland.


6 - Steve Wilson (BBC)


Case For: Another BBC favourite, in the Mowbray mould.  In case you don't recognise the name, it's this guy:


Case Against: Essentially Guy Mowbray speaking in a higher tone.

7 - Conor McNamara (BBC) 

Case For: Is Irish. And very good. And Irish.


Case Against: Solid on the television, but better suited for radio.

8 - Ian Darke (BT Sport) 

Case For: A very solid option for BT Sport. Eternally manages to sound amazed at the concept of football.

Case Against: Voice is occasionally grating.


9 - Alistair Mann (BBC) 

Case For:  Gets the last game on Match of the Day pretty much every week, and heroically manages to sound engaged. His latest was 'Boro 0-0 Everton.

Case Against: Virtually nobody knows who he is. It's this guy, Luis Suarez' lone TV defender at the 2014 World Cup.


10 - Rob Hawthorne (Sky) 

Case For: Sky's second-best option.

Case Against: Illustrative of the chasm between Tyler and the rest of his colleagues.

11 - Jonathan Pearce (BBC) 

Case For: Once appeared in the Sopranos: Robot Wars was playing on Janice's TV during the "Mergers and Acquisitions" episode in series four, meaning Pearce's commentary was audible as the camera moved away.

Case Against: Ridiculously melodramatic, occasionally veering on the preachy. Treats football as if it were putting him centre stage at an amateur drama production with casting directors in the audience. Doesn't add to a game, instead, he distracts from it.

12 - Alan Parry (Sky) 

Case For: Not John Motson.

Case Against: Voice is largely unbearable.

13 - John Motson (BBC) 

Case For: If he still wears a sheepskin coat, that goes in his favour.

Case Against: Like Liverpool's defence, he was reliable and relevant in the 1980s, but is now increasingly muddled and slow to react. Frequently gets facts wrong, and in the last few years has given up on announcing the scorer of a goal, instead reacting late by recognising the fact that there has been a goal, and waiting for close-up replays to identify the scorer for him.


Tweets of the Weekend

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