‘We’re Bucking The Trend’ – Gary Lineker Has Pop At ‘Match Of The Day’ Critics, Claims Alan Shearer Is ‘Really Good’

Chris Wright

30th, September 2013


By Chris Wright


The general consensus seems to be that Match of the Day (and especially Match of the Day 2) is growing ever more tedious and nonessential by the week, with increasing numbers of unmoved viewers lining up to voice their discontent at the “expert” punditry provided on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

With that in mind, host Gary Lineker is fighting his corner today, passionately defending his show and claiming that most of the programme’s critics are merely being swayed by the Daily Mail’s anti-BBC agenda – or something like that anyway.

Lineker is quoted in the Guardian as saying:

“Match of the Day has fundamentally improved since we got the [Premier League television right] contract back in 2003, but football is so emotive and that’s why people are never going to be entirely satisfied.

“But our audiences have improved year on year. We’re bucking the trends on highlight shows for sport – audiences are down everywhere and, considering the excessive football on TV, it’s remarkable we rarely go below four million on Saturday night, with another couple of million on Sunday morning. We generally hit between six to seven million every weekend, despite the current climate and amount of channels.”

That’s because people want to see the goals, Gary. Many people don’t have Sky and MOTD is the only place to see Premier League highlights on terrestrial television of a weekend.

“It’s so much easier when you can just spread yourselves but so many more people watch our show than any of theirs. It’s important to remember that. We still set the tone. You see how so much of our analysis will be copied on the Sunday and Monday and you think, ‘Oh yeah …’ We still lead the way, I think.”

Hmmm. Maybe it’s more to do with the fact that football analysis is fairly perfunctory and repetitive across the board. Let’s face it, there are only so many ways that you can say “he should be scoring from there” when it’s repeated a zillion times a night. The fact that MOTD get to say it first isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“I don’t think there is [widespread dissatisfaction] with MOTD. I think it’s a Daily Mail thing and their anti-BBC issue. I get massive feedback on Twitter and the vast majority is incredibly positive. The only thing that has been levelled consistently against MOTD, particularly in the Daily Mail, is that there’s a cozy atmosphere and it’s the same people every week.”

Which they’ve skilfully combated by getting Robbie Savage in on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. Next issue: the perceived lack of in-depth punditry on MOTD…

“You cannot get involved in debate on MOTD. You can do it on Sky because they’ve got hours and hours. We’ve got a couple of minutes. It’s a very disciplined show. Our primary purpose is to show the action and the analysis is very secondary. We have lots of people who would prefer no analysis. We have lots of people who would prefer more analysis. We have to find a balance.”

Fair enough, though we must say that we’ve never met a solitary human being of sound mind that was clamouring for more banal waffle from the right-hand sofa.

Here’s where Lineker’s mind really starts to fall apart: defending Alan Shearer and his “binary code” punditry style…

“Personally, I think he’s really good. He’s improved a lot. I think the problem is that when players start, with the odd exception, they need a transition and they can be a little guarded. But if you listen to Alan Shearer now compared to four years ago he’s become very strongly opinionated. He’s as strong as anyone and understands the game really well. We do lots of research and he’s generally in the top three of who people rate.”

That can’t be right.

Personally, we’d sack off all the punditry as we’ve heard it all before a thousand times. God bless Dion Dublin for trying to shake things up by standing up to demonstrate how Player A should be scoring from there, but it’s just not enough.

If we had our way, MotD would run like ITV4’s Bundesliga highlights show, with one central host (Lineker if needs be) introducing each match and the various commentators filling in the missing pieces. We’re fairly sure that their contract states they can only use so many minute’s worth of Premier League footage, but if the show ends up running for 30/45 minutes instead of an hour-and-a-half, so be it.

Anyone out there think differently?

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  1. chris says:

    Spot on. Bundersliga highlights were excellent. They even pronounce de Bruyne’s name correctly.
    The BBC is staffed with disconnected PC lunatics intent. They are boring and arrogant. Any criticism is dismissed as anti BBC agenda run by the daily mail.
    Its an Orwellian organization.

  2. Jock says:

    Alan Shearer “he’s very good”

    “No hablo espanol”

  3. Brian says:

    The Carragher/Neville combination is a prime example of entertaining opinionated banter, MOTD is pure keystone cops these days.

  4. Lex says:

    I think Goals On Sunday is miles better than MOTD.

  5. Dusty says:

    I hate the way the Bundesliga highlights are done – presented as half live commentary/half post-match analysis all at once is just irritating. I wish they’d do it all as if live, or all as if giving a summary in hindsight (a la the football league show).

  6. Del says:

    I have to step in here and say I really enjoyed MOTD2 last night. I thought Jason Roberts and Peter Schmeichel did great; they both spoke intelligently and offered new perspectives on the days matches. Jason Roberts was animated and spoke with passion, and I liked that Schmeichel kept acknowledging Roberts rather than just talking at Mark Chapman (something you see a lot on MOTD, people just talking at Gary).
    Overall I think the show really benefited from bringing in some fresh faces. If they make an effort to bring in more guest commentators the highlights coverage on both shows would be a lot better.

  7. Jarren says:

    Personally I have no problem with MOTD.

    Del is right though, it’s always nice to have fresh faces on. Roberts is an excellent analyst, for someone so young he has a real confidence in front of the camera.

    Now that Hansen is leaving, it is a great opportunity to get even more interesting new faces on.

    Savage is quite annoying though.

  8. TravisKOP says:

    I like Linker myself but i can see how it would annoy people. Thus far the Carra/Neville mix is by far my favourite punditry but you lot should all count your blessings because living in the U.S. we get one of three styles: ESPN pundits that know fuck all about football and try and relate it to other sports they understand more, FOX Soccer pundits like Wynalda and Warren Barton that are the blandest of bland coupled with AMERICAN commentators (just shoot me), or NBC Sports pundits that are new to the game so they carbon copy MOTD b/c they dont know any better.

  9. Luke says:

    I would have agreed with you in the past years but with this series I think they have made an effort to address their critics.

    They won’t be able to compete with Sky’s money and time, but that doesn’t mean they should be reduced to Gary standing out in some city rushing through league positions and fixtures before our league is minimised down to a highlights reel a la ITV’s Bundesliga coverage.

  10. Maria says:

    MotD just needs to drop Shearer. The format is OK, Lineker is good. They are trying something new with his interviews each week. Shearer was a great player, but has limited insight – hence his shambolic tenure at Newcastle.

  11. R-Man says:

    Agree with the above comments that Jason Roberts has improved dramatically since he first started. This Sunday is evidence with some decent insight. However, the same cannot be said for Shearer. Adds absolutely no value by saying exactly what he sees on the screen – pointless. As for Savage, don’t even get me started!

  12. Sjakie Meulemans says:

    I think Danny Murphy has been a good addition as well. It’s all about finding the right people and dropping the wrong ones (talking about you there Robbie Savage). I for one still enjoy watching the show!

  13. Monkey See, Monkey Do says:

    Death to the one they call SAVAGE!!

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