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Forget the party line. Ireland's World Cup pundits are all too fallible, especially when it comes to Beckham-bashing.
Eamonn McCann, 18 Jul 2006
A month watching the World Cup on television confirms that the cult of celebrity is ruining the game. There’s fellas picked for panels who wouldn’t get within an ass’s roar of the action if talent and form were the only criteria. But they are A-list celebs, and nobody has the nerve to tell them they’re out.
Can anybody seriously argue Dunphy’s still selected on merit?
Gilesey’s trading on the glories of Italia ‘90 and USA ‘94. No way will he be fit for South Africa four years hence. But no sign that RTÉ management is looking to the future.
This is World Cup football, people. Let’s try to look on the negative side.
Irish media analysts, old pals with typewriters for the most part, won’t hear a word against the current ‘star’ panel. Blithe nationalism kicks in the instant their fingers flex over the keyboard. No feature piece is complete without bombastic insistence that our squad is altogether superior to their competitors. No fault is ever admitted.
Within minutes of the shoot-out against Portugal which sent England packing, Dunphy and Giles were boasting in two-part harmony that they’d long ago recognised that England were a bunch of curly-toed chancers. Hadn’t they been shouting out for ages about the need to dump Beckham?
True, that. I seem to remember an occasion when they were also in full agreement about the identity of the obvious replacement, the inspirational winger with terrifying pace whose absence from the starting 11 more than anything else epitomised the total stupidity of the Ericsson regime – Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Hear either of them suggest this time round that Wright-Phillips would have made the difference if Ericsson had had the sense to select him?
Naw. But no mention of that in the ecstatic reviews. Being a celeb means your gaffes will always be occluded by media fans.
The prize for the most risible remark of the tournament (all channels eligible) went to Gilesey, who, when his final, portentous polemic against Beckham was diffidently interrupted by Graham Souness reminding him that Beckham’s early free kick had been the difference between the teams in the Paraguay game, that his wickedly-whipped inch-perfect cross had given Crouch the 83rd-minute breakthrough against Trinidad and Tobago, that his glorious free against Ecuador had carried his side into the quarters, replied, “But what else did he contribute..? And, How long did that free kick take, anyway – 10 seconds..?”