With apologies for the break in transmission of this TV review column, it returns to ask what Clive Tyldesley really meant when, quite early in the tournament, he told viewers: “It isn’t supposed to be easy, supporting England.”
Was he talking about the inevitable early exit that we all knew was to come, or the fact that the real hardship is that most games are on ITV? Either way he was soon proved right, which made a nice change.
I was on Spanish territory for the duration of the last-16 round - and in a town where Italian tourists were everywhere. That made watching Spain-Italy interesting, while everyone but four of us had gone home long before England’s embarrassing 90 minutes even began. The only surprise was the four of us watching all carried on watching til the bitter end.
All I can tell you about Spanish TV’s Euro 2016 coverage is that it (like the BBC’s) features Gianluca Vialli as a pundit and is not, apparently, shown on terrestrial TV, so that is perhaps one reason to be thankful for our coverage here. Beyond that, it was all in Spanish so was rather lost on me.
Some English fans have lost all interest in Euro 2016 now Roy’s Boys have flopped (and by the way, anyone else agree that the FA should make Slaven Bilic an offer he can’t refuse to be the next boss?)
But I find these tournements get more enjoyable once England have gone home because you can really concentrate on how much you want certain other teams to get knocked out.
Which brings us to Portugal, who were facing Poland in the first quarter-final on ITV on Thursday night with the network’s best commentrator, Sam Matterface, on the mic. I may not have been paying attention as closely as I ought because I’m sure I heard him credit a back pass to Les Dennis at one stage.
We had a memorable goal from Sanchez for the first time since the 1988 FA Cup final, while my favourite moment came when Matterface talked about stewards dealing with an ‘idiot’ (a pitch invader) seconds before the director switched to a close-up of our friend CR7.
This game also brought us Ryan Giggs’ debut as a pundit. He was okay but didn’t seem keen to say anything too controversial or jump on the desk Bilic-style, or even whip off his shirt to reveal the world’s hairiest chest, like he did at Villa Park in 1999.
The next night saw a wonderful Welsh performance, helped, I thought, by the opposition turning somewhat desperately to Marouane Fellaini, who was about as much use as a Belgian chocolate fireguard.
The mute button must have been used in almost every household watching as Robbie Savage, who talks too much even when he is relatively quiet, predictably went into overdrive without telling us anything we didn’t already know.
Rio Ferdinand, who’s grown on me as a pundit, made me smile when he said Hal Robson-Kanu sent three defenders out of the stadium when scoring Wales’ second and added: ‘I hope they had tickets to get back in.’
Meanwhile commentator Steve Wilson told us some of the Belgian fans could walk home as the venue was so near their home country. And by the end, some of them probably had.
Oh and Germany won a penalty shootout.
* Tweet your Euro 2016 observations (on the TV coverage or anything else) to @stevebone1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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