Tradition counts for little in the face of TV demands

PUBLISHED: 05:00 30 December 2011

David Fox shoots during Citys televised match against Tottenham on Tuesday night. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images.

David Fox shoots during Citys televised match against Tottenham on Tuesday night. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images.

©Focus Images Limited +44814 482222

While it’s great to be in the Premiership it really would be so much more enjoyable if our fixture list wasn’t constantly being rewritten at the behest of Sky.

One of the great traditions of English football is the Boxing Day programme, yet this year we all had to twiddle our thumbs because our game with Spurs had been moved to the following evening to suit the broadcaster.

We’ve already had to endure Saturday and Sunday lunchtime 
kick-offs this season and will have to do so again when Chelsea come in January and Manchester United visit in March. Call me a reactionary, but to me weekend football should be played at 3pm on a Saturday. When so much of the soul of our game has been sold I think it’s worth remembering that the reason for the traditional kick-off time is that once upon a time (and not so very long ago) many people had to work on a Saturday morning.

Of course, the Premiership has done a pretty effective job of pricing the working man out of regular attendance, and that may well be a contributory factor in the increasing lack of passion at football grounds that I have referred to more than once this season.

The eccentric fixture schedule brought about by the need to screen games all through the week also means that the league table has become a moveable feast, changing almost daily.

Once there was an element of order about it. You had a good result on a Saturday and for a few days you could look at the table with quiet satisfaction. Now you can be in one position at 5pm on a Saturday, another after the ESPN evening game, another after Sunday’s fixtures and then possibly yet another as a result of the Monday night game.

Of course, there’s an element of hypocrisy in what I’ve said because, like most fans I’ll watch games whenever they’re on. Nevertheless, there is an inherent problem with the ubiquity of coverage and it’s something that even Murdoch can’t control.

However much hyperbole emanates from Sky before a big game, the broadcaster cannot control what actually happens on the pitch. How often has a game been built up as a classic only for it to turn out to be a turgid scoreless draw or a scrappy 1-0 with little goalmouth action?

Quantity and quality do not go hand in hand and the surfeit of football available on television can start to become boring as one game blends into another.

Unfortunately when our game finally came along it went to script. Spurs proved themselves to be a top quality side and Gareth Bale justified the huge amount of hype that has built up around him. City worked hard but simply couldn’t compete with a midfield that offered pace in Bale, vision in Modric and Van der Vaart and discipline in Sandro and Parker.

As Paul Lambert has often said this season, the gulf between the top six and the rest of the league is massive when teams play to form and we saw that again on Tuesday night.

However, with tongue firmly in cheek, I have an idea which could see us go unbeaten for the rest of the season. After every City defeat the armchair tacticians ring Canary Call to explain the team or formation that the manager should have selected. If we could just get these people to contact Paul Lambert before a game to pass on the fruits of their wisdom City would be unstoppable!

Have a very Happy New Year!

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