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TV Review - Another Bad Night On The BBC As Mourinho And Dunphy Praise Pogba

TV Review - Another Bad Night On The BBC As Mourinho And Dunphy Praise Pogba
By Gavin Cooney
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We trust you've seen the footage of a group of England fans trashing an IKEA in demented ecstasy after the quarter-final win over Sweden. (That the country is now without a functional cabinet is a sweet irony).

It is tempting to imagine what would happen if the Irish fans were put in the same situation. This column imagines the Boys in Green showing up and embarking on a mass spree of assembly - finicky Allen Key in one hand, phone in the other - because it is on such battlegrounds we distinguish ourselves. (We might even send a few butchers to help with IKEA's meatball issue, although at this point the column might be guilty of flogging a dead horse).

While our supporters have spent decades showing how different we are to [First Name Of Current England Manager]'s Barmy Army, where we have truly set ourselves apart is how we cover the football.

There is a sad tale to be told of the demise of the BBC's coverage of events featuring England/Team GB since London 2012, where they have lost sight of the true idea of public broadcasting and instead shovelled the public what they think they want. Public service broadcasting is at its best when it gives viewers something they didn't realise they wanted, and this, of course, takes a deep understanding of the audience.

This column has previously meditated on the great genius of Bill O'Herlihy in these situations, as he literally laughed on air to the pre-Euro 2012 poll claiming that 80% of Irish fans reckoned we would beat Croatia. There were times when Bill knew us better than we knew ourselves.

Sadly, the Beeb has lost the run of itself and is now just pandering to what they think viewers might like. Much of this responsibility has fallen at the feet of the once-impressive Gabby Logan, who has been given the job of tardily vomiting memes in front of people either too polite or compromised to walk away.

Earlier in the tournament we had her Melania Trump style 'Come on England' jacket, and she has since become one of the most enthusiastic Its Coming Homers. Tonight, the nadir: an interview with Harry Maguire in which she asked him about the size of his head. "Now I don’t think I’m the first person to point it out, but obviously the size of your head has been mentioned. Is this a family trait?"


Maguire laughed awkwardly and told her to blame his Dad, and did reveal that Jamie Vardy calls him Slabhead. Elsewhere, she asked him if he had enough tea, given that he was from Yorkshire and all that.

That the BBC is spending a World Cup scraping the last echo from the chamber is deeply disappointing.

Moving on to Jose Mourinho. (Too self-conscious to use the Big Head segue, are you? -Ed).


The United boss is back on RT for the week, but has relocated to a studio in Manchester. Speaking after the actual football tonight, Mourinho was really quite good. Rather than say 'Wow, look at all the set pieces that have been scored', he tried to rationalise the trend, explaining that players are too fatigued to train properly during a World Cup, meaning that the best allocation of energy is to running through set pieces.

Elsewhere, Mou was critical of every Belgian player other than Eden Hazard. "Belgium go home with a bad feeling that Hazard is out of it. Apart from him their players went hiding, especially in the last 20 minutes. They are better than that. Many of the big players were not there in the big occasion".

He delivered another of those unconvincing odes to the beauty of football, hailing the "lots of happiness" and the "lots of fair play", citing "Cristiano with Cavani" and "the Japanese people cleaning the stadium". This led to Mourinho pitching for a job. "I am a club manager, I do not want to manage one game a month...but I want to do a World Cup".


As always with Mourinho, it was impossible not to refract much of what he was saying through his own self-interest. He listed off Didier Deschamps defeats in finals, paying particular interest to the Champions League final he lost to Mourinho's Porto, while hailing Luka Modric. "Modric is one of my boys. When I brought him to Real Madrid, the Spanish press were saying that we had bought one of the worst players in the history of Real Madrid. He is not one of the worst players in the history of Real Madrid".

Perhaps the most pertinent part of his analysis was in relation to Paul Pogba, the midfielder he frequently dropped last season as he felt he couldn't trust his discipline.

I think it was a very good performance by Pogba. Pogba was mature, he played the game with great maturity. When he had to hold position and keep control of the game, he did. When Deschamps took off Giroud for N'Zonzi, he had more freedom but not freedom to do silly things. He had freedom to kep the ball away from the dangerous areas, to assist Griezmann. He was very, very mature.

Mourinho wasn't the only man impressed by this new Pogba. Eamon Dunphy hailed his contribution on RTE after the game, accentuating his defending against "my hero" Fellaini.

At the top of the show Dunphy said he might be willing to eat his words regarding Pogba if he performed against Belgium; by the end he sheepishly mentioned his assertion at the beginning of the tournament that Pogba wasn't good enough to win the competition.

Eamon Dunphy being fact-checked by himself?


Now that's a public service we can all get behind.

Stray Observations 

  • What a night for George Hamilton, with all of the Francophone names in play. Boy did George commit. Hazarrrr; Pavarrrr; Herrh-nan-dez; Shad-lee; Geer-ood. He sounded like a pirate anytime Belgium attacked down the left wing in the first-half. Sadly, it was an oddly off night for the great man otherwise, frequently getting players' names wrong, most notably mistaking goalscorer Umtiti for Pogba.
  • Gary Lineker's farewell pun was atrocious. [France progress to the final]..."thanks to a goal by ummmmm[brief moment of ruminating] Titi!
  • Apres Match Rating - 9/10.
  • We are happy to confirm that Liam Brady has seen the light and is a VAR convert. Welcome to the light, Liam.

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