Sky double act of Carragher and Neville outshines BT Sport
New Monday night analysis on Sky wins plaudits as old enemies gel to offer banter and insight
SKY SPORTS unveiled its new Monday Night Football pairing of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to much acclaim last night, as the pair ran the rule over the Manchester City v Newcastle game and the rest of the weekend's action.
The pair were praised not just for their analysis but also their chemistry, which manifested itself in a series of sharp, quick-witted exchanges including one that even got the show trending on Twitter.
Neville compared marking Robin van Persie to trying to find a burglar in your house, when Carragher suggested that it would be best to just hide under the bed, Neville countered by telling Carragher, a Liverpudlian: "You'd be the burglar."
It was not the only cut and thrust of the night. When the pair discussed Arsenal, Neville declared: "There is no single player to answer Arsenal's problems. They need a big shop." Carragher agreed and chipped in: "There's only one section of people overspending at Arsenal - the supporters."
Neville, the former Manchester United full-back, won plaudits during his first full season with Sky last year thanks to an enthusiasm and insight which, according to the Daily Telegraph, "shamed his predecessors".
Now Carragher, a lifelong Liverpool player who spent much of his career in the shadow of United's success, has joined his old adversary in the studio and looks as though he will be able to give him a run for his money.
It was not a perfect debut from Carragher. "He did not display Neville's sharp turn of phrase, or his ability to slip a joke into his analysis," says the Daily Telegraph. "There was far more good than bad, however, and Carragher's arrival means Neville might have some competition as well as a new colleague."
Sky is well known for its gimmicks but that did not overshadow the analysis, says the Daily Mail. "It was modern analysis with electronic aids but, importantly, backed up with strong, informed opinions. These early exchanges indicated that their views match the integrity they showed as players. They are not worried about ruffling a few feathers."
The Independent agrees. "Carragher is worth listening to," it states. "There is knowledge and there is a pure passion for his sport, one that comes with his voice clambering up an octave when he gets frustrated with what he is seeing... Neville is a teller and now he is sharing a studio with someone of his ilk."
It spells bad news for new Sky rival BT Sport which got off to an average start and suffered technical difficulties. Viewing figures were "underwhelming" says Eurosport. "Widespread criticism of the pundits [Michael Owen and Steve McManaman] and 'vanilla' presenter Jake Humphrey represents another blow for the company at the beginning of the season." ·