will tell you this is no time to be tinkering, as a World Cup approaches.
Trusted, well-seasoned selections will
always be favoured, with important battles in the offing, which I suppose is
why ITV is sticking with the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony as its theme music
for England matches, despite the fact that I cannot be the only viewer heartily
sick of it.
fact, apart from the estate of the late infamous rock-leech (as Pete Townshend
of the Who dubbed him) Allen Klein, it is difficult to think of anyone deriving
much satisfaction from the constant repetition of what I believe is known as an
Having watched all of
ITV’s live coverage of the friendly match against Brazil, and the late-night
highlights – for semi-professional purposes, you understand, I am not
completely mad - it was yesterday lunchtime before I shook off this worm.
the royalties going to Richard Ashcroft of the now defunct indie band, I might
take a more charitable view, but as the riff was sampled from a Rolling Stones
orchestral treatment, Klein, holder of the copyright, put his hand up for the
money, and cheapened the music just that little bit more by licensing it for
just about works in ITV’s neat title sequence, behind images of modern England –
sleek dockland skyscrapers, the Angel of the North, teenage girls being sick in
the streets, that kind of thing – but as ITV devoted three-and-a-quarter hours
to the match, with all the attendant ad breaks, one was very much Verved out by
the end of it all.
reason, I assume, for the unnaturally extended programme was to carry the
football audience over into ITV’s Saturday night schedule, swelling the figures
even more, which would explain Steve Rider’s sign-off, describing England’s
performance as “more Harry Hill, than X-Factor.”
made absolutely no sense to those of us who find Hill’s bright and breezy show
an enjoyable, and occasionally inspired, romp.
To us, England more closely resembled Simon Cowell’s talent
show; over-hyped, undeniably well resourced and part of the national fabric,
but often disappointingly predictable.
need to use the football as some kind of run-up to X-Factor meant that the
story of the match, which Andy Townsend, one of our more lucid pundits, had
delineated more or less straight after the final whistle, had to be re-told
several times in the last half-hour of the programme.
pointed to Brazil’s ability to raise their game very quickly, improvise, and
catch a static England defence off-guard, and Marcel Desailly - also a
perceptive if slightly too voluble analyst – agreed.
Ian Wright, for whom the programme was presumably part of
his escape tunnel from the teatime chat show on Five, just found it “very, very
disappointing” (the football, that is, not the cha….oh, I don’t know, though).
ITV’s midweek Champions League coverage, which sometimes feels a little
pinched, Saturday’s bonus airtime allowed for longer post-match interviews, not
always to the programme’s advantage, as in this exchange between Fabio Capello
and interviewer Gabriel Clarke.
Capello: “It’s difficult to create chances, because they (Brazil) defend
very very well.”
couldn’t England create chances?”
also asked Capello, “If you play Brazil in the World Cup with your first choice
team, what chance do you have?” to which the England manager unaccountably
failed to reply, “No chance, Gab old son.
They’ll batter us.
is more at home with his determinedly quirky pre-match features, for which he
adopts a style of narration more often heard in documentaries about the war,
speaking in clipped self-consciously portentous phrases, with meaningful
“Where they globetrot,
frenzy follows,” he intones in a feature about Brazil, “The keepers of the
trouble in paradise.
More Mourinho than
Jairzhino…” and so on.
off-the-wall style, though, occasionally encourages previously prosaic
footballers to join in, notably and hilariously Jermaine Defoe, who claimed in
his pre-match interview to have “monk’s strength.”
I assume this was a reference to some quasi-yogic martial
arts schtick, as the most cursory browsing of Defoe’s tabloid back catalogue
would reveal any resemblance between the footballer and a member of a religious
order is purely coincidental.
revelation was left hanging, though, supplanted by another blast of the Verve
and another break, mysteriously still including adverts for banks.
I am no economist, but I have been reading
in the newspapers that there is a bit of a recession on at present, so I am
wondering if one bank’s “helpful banking” commercial, and another’s boast to
“help your money achieve its potential” (Been going well that, has it?) can
prompt anything more than hollow laughter.
As Richard Ashcroft so presciently wrote in his 1997 hit: “…it's
a bittersweet symphony this life.
Trying to make ends meet, you're a slave to the money then you