Sky Sports recently revived Monday Night Football coverage was possibly one of the most compelling experiences for armchair fans in a long time.
Football on TV can be a divisive issue. There are those that would rather be Raymond Domenech than live life without having access to every known premium TV package known to man. The opposite also exists and some fans equate the purchasing of pay TV sport packages as the moral equivalent of pressing the ‘shred’ button at Enron.
As with all things in life, true happiness comes only from believing that your perspective is totally correct; that any alternate viewpoint is cobblers and should, therefore, be mercilessly mocked at every opportunity.
Monday Night Football has the potential to prove both camps totally right (and wrong) at the same time. Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Anyone who witnessed the coverage will, without exception, automatically join the ranks of the Murdoch Militia or immediately sell all their belongings at a car boot and join the Socialist Workers Party.
The match in question, Manchester United against Newcastle United, almost became a footnote in this epic battle for the hearts and minds of the viewing public. From the first minute, the audience were either mesmerised by the space ship-esque set or horrified by Gray delivering his analysis from what appeared to be a pimped out altar.
Either way, it’s a vastly different experience when compared to the straight shooter that is Match of the Day. The terrestrial offering limits its technological prowess to the ‘Magic Eye’ style effect of Alan Shearer’s latest fashion abomination and a green screen for highlights.
Not Monday Night Football. Viewers were faced with Keys wielding an iPad-type device to deliver squad news and, not to be outdone, Andy Gray prodding a Sol Campbell-sized touch screen throughout the show.
Perhaps your screen was actually showing how Paul Scholes had (again) outclassed Alan Smith through the medium of arrows but, in his mind, Andy was re-creating the Klingon battle scene from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It was also painfully obvious that he had been doing the same thing (complete with massive screen) in his spare room every Monday night while coverage was broadcast by Setanta and ESPN. Truly chilling.
It is clear the battle lines have been drawn and every fan will be compelled to pledge their allegiance to either the rapier wit of Mark Lawrenson or the comfort of Gray manipulating an avatar of Jamie Redknapp to prove that, actually, Wayne Rooney is a pretty decent player after all.
Stadiums, friends and families will be at odds. Marriages will end.
Who will you choose?