Football's back and as bonkers as ever… and that's just the TV coverage
10:12 GMT, 20 August 2012
With the world still raving about the superb summer love provided in Stratford and beyond this month, the big question was very quickly asked: would the Premier League be able to capture the spirit with which the Olympic Games simply oozed
Which is a bit like asking if Nick Skelton would have won gold jumping a clear round with his horse Big Star on his back. Although there are clearly some similarities, it is also obvious that they are not entirely the same thing.
This point has been underlined perfectly by the trailer Sky Sports have been showing to get us in the mood for the new season. It features heaving waves of fans captured at that intense, suspended moment of anxious anticipation before the perfect storm of excitement and emotion as the ball hits the back of the net.
Good to be back: Fans were back in force at the weekend
More from Mark Webster…
Edge of the Box: Hats off to the BBC for their Olympic coverage
Edge of the Box: The fastest Olympic race in history helps the BBC shine once again
Edge of the Box: BBC slow out of the blocks after Boyle's brilliant extravaganza
Edge of the Box: French fancy captures British hearts on Le Tour with Wiggo and Co
Edge of the Box: Farah on fire as he became the first Cube winner
Edge of the Box: Barker hits the target in more ways than one
Edge of the Box: Too much of Lawro as Martinez stars for ITV at Euro 2012
Edge of the Box: Well that was worth the trip! The BBC boys arrive at the Euros… and England bow out
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OK, football isn’t perfect – never was, never will be – but as James Tiberius Kirk emoted dramatically in the Star Trek film The Final Frontier ‘I need my pain… my pain makes me who I am’. And I for one am not going to argue with the captain of the Starship Enterprise.
So, the Premier League returned to our tellies this weekend with barely an inch to spare for much else and with it plenty of reminders that this is a game you’ve just got to love.
Soccer Saturday decided to open the season by reminding us how the old one finished – a heady montage mixing up those last thrilling minutes on the pitch when the title was won and lost with the sheer hysteria going on behind the desk in the Sky Sports studio.
From there on it was business as usual with Matt le Tissier, ever the maverick, defying convention and leaving that shirt collar completely tie free.
Gary Lineker, too, was keeping it casual having been booted and suited for most of August up in that rather soulless studio he was given to work from high above the Olympic Park.
Gary told us it had been a ‘long summer with so little happening’, his peepers twinkling irony like Morse code, ‘thankfully Match Of The Day is back’, and with it not the two new faces we had been told about – old heads Harry Redknapp and Mick McCarthy had been recruited for a gaffer’s eye view – but two rather familiar ones: that of a dour Scottish former centre-half and a shiny-headed old Geordie centre forward.
Nevertheless, it was a good one for Alan Hansen to be in the studio for as he took the opportunity to go in with both feet on the new management at his old team after their 3-0 hammering at the Hawthorns.
‘I spent a career playing it from the back… but it’s percentages’, bridled Hansen before adding ‘Skrtel doesn’t know what he’s doing’. I suspect Brendan Rodgers will get an easier ride when fellow members of the manager’s union are in the pundits chairs.
We also got the full benefit of the rather brilliant home TV coverage football has developed over the decades, as opposed to the often lame images provided by the world feed throughout the Games.
As a result of a prying eye cast unblinkingly towards the bench, we were privy to the site of Alan Pardew giving an official a shove as if he was saving him from being run over by an oncoming No 47 bus.
After the game, at the post-match interview, Pardew looked somewhat more humbled than usual, and laughed nervously as he pointed out he’d told his players before the game about how it had been ‘a great Olympics and setting an example and there I was pushing over a linesman. Ridiculous’.
Yes, Alan, a little bit ridiculous. But a little bit of ridiculous along with a touch of nasty, some sad, lots of wonderful and tons and tons of brilliant is what keeps us coming back for more. And I’ve barely touched the sides of just how that box in the corner of the room eats it up!