By Danny Caro
February 5, 2009
I've never been a big fan of ITV's football coverage, well, maybe the Champions League final 2005 apart, but last night's blooper was the mother of all embarrassments.
It was a blink and miss it incident as having endured 118 minutes of painful television, they missed the decisive moment, accidentally cutting to adverts. I'm sure the Gosling family share my sentiments. The blunders didn't stop there as the post-match analysis turned into something of a farce with just a few seconds of footage in the fog of the Everton's boy wonder.
They screwed up, and screwed up badly. It reminded me of an incident during 1998 when I was at Camp America. Watching delayed coverage of England's World Cup match against Columbia, I was on the edge of my seat with David Beckham preparing to take a free-kick. Seconds before he shot for goal, the ESPN coverage went to a commercial break. When they returned, Becks and co were celebrating so perhaps ITV should consider moving into the American sports field as it's right up their street.
ITV were also the hosts of one of the worst experiences of my childhood, the 1989 Division One title decider against Arsenal, when the Reds needed to avoid a two-goal defeat to land the title. Their coverage that day was ok, probably because the late and great Brian Moore was the commentator, although I still have my doubts whether or not Alan Smith in fact got a touch on the first goal, which came from an indirect free-kick.
As a Liverpool fan, I came away from last night's match thinking, hey, it's only the FA Cup, and if going out allows the team to concentrate on the priority that is the Premier League and, Rafa's old favourite, the Champions League, then perhaps the result wasn't such a bad thing.
However, three things irk me. No. 1. Steven Gerrard limped off after 15 minutes with a hamstring injury. The timing isn't such a bad thing as there's an England international around the corner, but Stevie G has a history of hamstring injuries so I hope Rafa's excuse of "tiredness" isn't just a coverage up.
No. 2. Fernando Torres, Liverpool's No. 9, looked short of match sharpness throughout. I have my suspicions that an early challenge by Lescott left him with a damaged foot, but, having already missed a large chunk of the campaign, he soldiered on. As predicted, the irony is that without Gerrard and Torres, Liverpool would face an uphill battle to maintain their double challenge, especially now that Robbie Keane has returned to White Hart Lane.
And finally, I was bitterly disappointed by Rafa Benitez's negative tactics. It appeared that he'd settled for penalties long before the end of normal time. This cautious approach has frustrated Liverpool fans up and down the country all season. The team is in the best position it has been for many years in terms of winning the league, but his lack of ambition and attacking intent has resulted in frustrating home draws in the league.
On the back of the win over Chelsea, it's clear that winning breeds confidence and without their two talisman, it could be a depressing couple of months if news from the Anfield treatment table isn't good.
Oh, one more thing. Although Evertonians were glad the ITV's pictures from Goodison Park came back for the goal celebrations. I was not and am just glad that Match of the Day extended their contract as I can't bear much more of Andy Townsend and co.
Final score: Everton 1 ITV 0, Scorer: Michael Grade own goal