ITV and BBC World Cup football commentary teams have not been doing any specific drills to prepare them for the likelihood of an England penalty shoot-out, it has emerged. The news is coming as a shock to viewers, who have regularly faced poor commentaries, banal punditry and mistimed cutbacks to the studio during England shoot-outs over recent years.
‘Given the inevitability of penalties if we get out of the group stage, you’d think they’d be practising a few clever-but-not-too-scripted lines, or finding a couple of nuggets of facts about the last time Trent Alexander-Arnold took a penalty,’ noted one veteran England fan, who has seen every single tournament exit on penalties since 1990.
‘I did hear Guy Mowbray doing a but of practice off-mike the other day, banging out a couple of clichés about it being a time for ‘lions with big hearts’ and that ‘reputations could be made or lost’, but surely they should be doing more. Who the hell is going to ensure Adrian Chiles doesn’t ask a left-field question about what music the boys were listening to last night while Roy Keane randomly sighs and seethes angrily in the corner?’
The last decent commentary England had on a shoot out is widely thought to be 1990 where Brian Moore signalled the end of the England-Germany game with the simple: ‘Stuart Pearce…….SAVED!’. Since then, it has been 30 years of hurt, with Moore himself experiencing the pain of shoot-out humiliation commentating on England-Argentina in 1998, with his interaction with Kevin Keegan: ‘Moore: So, Kevin, you know David Batty the best. Do you back him to score? Keegan: ‘Yes’. Moore (one second later): ‘Oh no!!’.
‘You can be sure that the Brazil commentators will have been honing their ‘GOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL’ screams for years,’ continued the fan. ‘And commentators from any minnow who might come up against England will already have their ‘Henry Cooper! Maggie Thatcher! You boys took one hell of a beating’, speeches ready.’
In preparation for a poor commentating performance, Pizza Hut have already offered Andy Townsend and Glenn Hoddle contracts for a set of three not particularly funny post-World Cup adverts, in which Townsend says ‘a little bit’ in every sentence and Hoddle talks some bollocks about amputees.