Flob Farrago Shows Pundits Helped Turn Beautiful Game into Love Island

Flob Farrago Shows Pundits Helped Turn Beautiful Game into Love Island

Wednesday, 21 March, 2018 - 14:45
Jamie Carragher
London- Paul MacInnes
Deciding what to do with Jamie Carragher has taken some time. Indeed it’s been possible to worry for the HR department at Sky Sports. Perhaps they have seen the former Liverpool defender flob on a 14‑year‑old girl too many times. A loop of expectorate running continually before their eyes, this short video clip may eventually have assumed the same mystical qualities as the Zapruder film.

Sky ultimately made its decision on Wednesday, opting to suspend Carragher from his role as a pundit until the end of the season, at which point his position will be reviewed.

The judgment came five days after one Andy Hughes of Colwyn Bay crept up on Carragher in traffic after Manchester United’s 2-1 victory against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Pulling alongside Carragher’s Range Rover Hughes experienced a moment of provocative genius equivalent to Donald Trump finding the caps lock. Winding down his window and leaning over his daughter, he repeated the score out loud: “2-1, Jamie lad,” Hughes squealed, adding that little diminutive at the end to show it was just a friendly piece of goading.

At this point Carragher had a choice. He could have burst into tears, riven to his core by the unshakable truth contained within Mr. Hughes’s words. He could also have opted for any one of another 62,000 responses available to him, none of which would have made him look like a thin-skinned barbarian. But in the end he went for spitting and, so, that’s that.

The process by which Sky came to its decision was long and arduous. If you had to draw a parallel it would be the shaming of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones with the subscription broadcaster in the role of the High Sparrow.

First off there was a period of uncertainty, Carragher left to brood on his sins. Then, on Monday, the pundit was summoned from Liverpool to London for a meeting with his bosses.

The culmination of that encounter was Carragher being removed from his duties, but only for the evening (Gary Neville not only had to conduct video analysis for Stoke v Manchester City alone, but respond to his own observations with an arched eyebrow).

This was hardly the end of it. The next day Carragher was back in Isleworth, live on Sky News, to offer trademark analysis. Only this time it was of his own grubby indiscretion.

His interviewer, Sarah Hewson, kicked off by informing him she herself was “recoiling” at his “disgusting” behavior. Carragher was then invited to consider his actions. The best explanation he could manage was “a moment of madness”, perhaps hoping for validation through alliteration. For a few minutes he flailed around trying to conjure a convincing explanation as to why the madness descended. None was forthcoming.

Sky let that performance roll around in their mouths for 24 hours then decided on a longer suspension with the threat of an ultimate sanction in the summer. You could look at this as a cake‑and-eat-it outcome; a flobbing farrago has been spun out into four days of news with the prospect of more to come.

At the same time a suspension has the effect of coming over like a serious sanction while keeping options open. On the other hand it is possible that Sky took so long to make a decision because it was actually a tricky one.

Anyone who works in football media knows full well that celebrity, its cultivation and the public response to it is at the heart of the business they are part of. The game is not quite like Love Island yet, but it is getting that way.

Who’s up and who’s down, who’s in dispute with whom, is a necessary tension to keep the drama rolling during days when there’s nothing happening on the pitch (that’s not a reference to United v Sevilla, by the way). Fans react to this fare as they would with any other type of celebrity news – they both love and loathe it in equal measure.

As Ian Herbert wrote in the Daily Mail this week, pundits are increasingly as much of the plot as the footballers. You will never believe what Paul Scholes had to say about Manchester United or how Gary Neville slammed Antonio Conte. You won’t credit how Roy Keane eviscerated anyone and everyone including himself in front of a mirror. All this is part of the dance.

But if the dance is basically to engender a cycle of barb and counter-barb it should not come as a surprise to anyone when it gets out of hand. Sky might have been looking at the situation this week and thinking: how do we de-escalate this?

As things currently stand we have seen the logical conclusion to this dance. It ends in two 40-something men behaving like emotionally under-developed children as an actual child is humiliated in public. The daughter is no doubt experiencing her own week of infamy and all through no fault of her own. That she is the only voice in this entire shambles that carries any maturity is less surprising than it should be. “Stop it!”, she tells her father at more than one point during the film. If only he had listened.

(The Guardian)

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