The best programme on Saturday night TV - well for football fans anyhow. Match of the day showing Premiership highlights as they should be shown with plenty of action, just enough incisive punditry, and the classic theme tune to boot.
Gary Lineker is far better as the host in my opinion than Des Lynam ever was and his laid-back presenting style balances well the frequent rants coming from the pundits about "sloppy defending." His wry look at the day's happenings can be quite amusing and prevents the panel from taking themselves too seriously.
The commentary for the matches is far better than it was on ITV, making you wish the BBC had the rights to more games. ITV constantly insist on using David Pleat, who seems clueless and comes out with gems like "the sight is in end" as he did in the Champions League Final of Arsenal v Barcelona. The BBC commentators seem more respected, especially John Motson, who clearly does his research before the game! The pundits are good, particularly Alan Hansen, who combines well with Mark Lawrenson through many years of working together both on the field and in the studio. Recently Alan Shearer has been a good addition to get a striker's viewpoint of the action rather than just the defenders'. Sometimes I wish they would do more research on the the smaller teams like Reading who have been doing extremely well in their first top-flight season (as of February 2007) as they occasionally make mistakes about how they did the previous season such as claiming they finished behind Sheffield Utd. Instead of which they often spend half the programme praising the same couple of players every week from the "big" teams, even if they clearly dived several times to gain penalties earlier that day.
One of the biggest advantages that Match of the Day has is that there are no adverts breaking up the programme every few minutes and reducing the time for actual highlights of the matches to be shown.
Another thing Match of the Day does well is that it tries to balance out the coverage so that they show the more interesting games first, taking away the bias that both ITV's "The Premiership" and Match of the day suffered from in the past where they would show 30 minutes of highlights from the Manchester Utd. game then barely 30 seconds of some of the other games, obviously infuriating many fans who wanted to see more of their team. Of course in this respect it is going to be difficult to please everyone since die-hards are going to believe that their team should be on first every week. The fact that the producers seem to listen to comments from viewers and do their best to improve the show does them credit. Long may it continue.
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