Gary Breen & Co-Commentary

A quick note…

Premier Sports have been covering the recent Audi Cup competition at the Allianz Arena and Gary Breen has been part of their commentary team.

On the basis that this website is frequently disparaging about the work of ex-professionals on television, it’s only right that it praises those who don’t conform to the negative stereotype.

Breen was excellent.  A colour-commentator doesn’t have to radiate charisma or say an awful lot, but it’s imperative that what he does say has a value beyond just filling silence.  Quick soundbytes are all the viewer really needs: the recognition of an interesting tactical wrinkle here, a bit of supplementary knowledge about a player there.

Pre-season or not, Breen did that very well.  He may lack the television polish of some of his contemporaries and he may not possess the sort of lingering fame that the bigger channels seem to demand, but he did his job extremely well during the tournament and, whilst also having clearly researched the games he was due to cover, he was an interesting-yet-unobtrusive presence throughout.  He saw detail within the games which the viewer would typically miss and he actually used reference points from his playing career to add colour to certain situations.

Maybe this is relative and maybe I’m too easily impressed after all these years of banality, but it was better than the standard to which I’m used to - and that’s significant.

This is what the marquee broadcasters in this country have to start recognising: the only value that these guys actually have is derived from what they say.  The expensive suits, the sharp haircuts and the England caps are all incidental because, in most instances, they are employing people who are either incapable of articulating their knowledge of the game, don’t possess as much knowledge as assumed, or who believe that working in television or radio is about turning up and saying what they see.

It’s a fallacy; the public may not want to be bogged down in thick tactical discussions, but they do crave enlightenment and almost every habitual football-watcher in the country enjoys learning something.  Sky’s Monday Night Football is not a success because Gary Neville played for Manchester United and England, but because Neville understands what his job actually entails.

Ditto Gary Breen.  He understands how to communicate with a television audience and, whilst already being good at what he does, is evidently working hard to improve.  That’s the kind of approach that has to be rewarded and, although his playing CV will likely bar him from Sky’s glossy world of hyperbole, there must be a regular place for him somewhere within the broadcasting structure.

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