Is three weeks into the season enough time to assess a new signing? Well in the case of the BBC, their new signing is Colin Murray. Having been bedded in during his very own pre-season, presenting the World Cup highlights for the Beeb, he now anchors the increasingly important Match of the Day 2. I say increasingly important because it is normally the big game that they cover thanks to every Sunday being a ‘Super Sunday’ if Sky are to be believed.
Murray is not everybody’s cup of tea. Among the people rumoured to be considered for the role, I have the most respect for James Richardson, but if adorning the sofa with Alan Shearer’s total lack of insight, and a painfully dull Martin Keown means giving up Football Weekly podcasts for The Guardian, then I like him where he is thank you very much.
What Murray does have going for him is that is both a football fan, and is comfortable in the anchor role. Employing presenters who love football is far more effective than converting ex-pros from the pitch to the autocue: consider Adrian Chiles and John Barnes. He also seems genuinely excited by the prospect of the challenge he has been given, and having someone who enjoys the role so much may compensate for the somewhat lazy demeanour that Mark Lawrenson portrays.
Murray is somewhat up against it however. Chiles grew into his role, earning a considerable fan base along the way and there will be many viewers who will wish he never left. There is much more hype surrounding his appointment than that of his predecessor, who was ushered in relatively quietly. And to add to this, the format for the show itself has been altered.
Now we are presented with an amalgamation of archive clips thrust together as though they are an arts and crafts project. It’s the type of thing you expect to see on the build up to the showing of the 200th FA Cup final, but every week? I remain unconvinced. Also, part of MOTD2’s more relaxed appeal was the 2Good2Bad feature which has been dropped, leaving Murray less to work with and attempting to engineer the same moments within the games’ analysis. Most of the time, he copes pretty well, but segments such as the ‘sing the theme tune’ part have no place on my TV screen.
As with any new role, there should be a bedding-in period and any gripes we have with Murray should be put to one side. From his early outings it is clear that he is at relative ease with the pundits, and they seem to feed off him in return. Repeatedly referring to Phil Brown as ‘Big Phil’ on last Sunday’s show began to grate though (is he that big?…5”11” as it goes, so no, not really. And besides, I thought Scolari was ‘big Phil’, I’ve just pictured Phil Brown managing Brazil…I’m getting sidetracked…).
I am neither a massive fan of Murray, nor do I find him detestable as I’m sure some do, so I am prepared to give him the chance. He got approached to do it, and he would have been a moron to turn it down. There is a part of me that worries that there will be too much of an effort to create banter for the sake of making it look as though everyone is in a pub with their friends. That sort of relationship, or something resembling it, can be achieved (the Football Ramble podcast springs to mind, although it is not mainstream TV), but it can seem false or over-tried.
So far, there are flashes of both side of Murray’s behaviour – everything is a little too excitable rather than the easy-going Chiles approach, but I wish Colin well. I hope he does well because ultimately I’ll be watching it whether I like him or not. It’s a steady start Colin, but room for improvement, think Florent Malouda in the Prem: It took a while, but now he’s an asset, just don’t take more than two years to get there.
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