Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rethinking Robbie Savage

Personally, I try to avoid him on the radio but there is no doubt that, despite the views of the overwhelming majority of my Twitter timeline, Robbie Savage is a popular guy.

Yes. It's true.

If he wasn't then presumably no-one would listen to him on BBC Radio Five Live and ESPN would stop asking him back on the telly for live Cup games. It's also true that his cheeky laddish sense of humour mixed with his TalkSport manner isn't easy to do.

No really, think about it. How many ex-players do you see who can string a coherent sentence together? Robbie Savage can. In fact the reason why so many people find him objectionable is what makes him a good broadcaster. He has the ability to articulate and express himself in front of a microphone. As an amateur podcaster myself, I can assure you that it is quite hard to articulate pub boorishness. I'm working on it though.

Last weekend, I had the chance to see Robbie in his other job as professional footballer when Derby County came to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace. The only other time I saw Savage play in the flesh was at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for an FA Cup semi final against Arsenal. Savage was a Blackburn player and came on as a sub. If I remember rightly, the Welsh international was on his way back from injury and it certainly showed. He was sluggish, weak in the tackle and Patrick Vieira made pretty short work of him.

Whenever I'd seen him play on the telly, in his pomp, he was tigerish and quick to the ball. At Selhurst he was neither of this things but what struck me about his game was what a superb passer of the ball he is. He rarely played a misplaced pass and always knew how to switch play easily. A more confident team would have made more from the ammo he supplied.

His shooting wasn't that great and I don't remember him making too many tackles but in my opinion he was, technically, the most proficient player on the pitch. It was only his lack of pace and defensive play that let him down. As a central midfielder he wasn't able to screen the defence very well. The match ended as an error-strewn 2-2 draw.

It is easy to forget that under that thick veneer of cheesy showbiz patter there is still a decent footballer enjoying the autumn of his career. In the future, when I hear him on the radio, I won't think of him as an easily opinionated populist rent-a-mouth but as a good footballer in his own right...

... for about five seconds.


Webbie - FootieAndMusic said...

A ha.. I was just about to raise issue with you until I saw that last line.

Chris O said...

The last time I saw him on ESPN, he twice called Rebecca Lowe 'Laura' for some reason and he had to keep correcting himself accordingly. At one point, I wondered if he was drunk. He certainly gave that impression.

Without wishing to be be too dismissive, I can't get beyond the premise that anyone spending so much time on making their hair look so 'respectable' can't consider football to be that much of a priority.