Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Who needs remote control...?"

AS WITH German football, so it seems with German football coverage on TV: keep it simple, brisk – and effective.
Just one commentator in the gantry, for example.
Respectful audiences sitting in silence for each coffee-table football forum, broadcast every night.
But in pundit Paul Breitner, German TV boasts an unusual quirk - perhaps the only committed Maoist to have won the World Cup.
And as one of three men to have scored in two World Cup finals, his international CV rather trumps Ian Wright’s four goals against San Marino.
Breitner’s once-extravagant Afro has now been tamed to a sleek, silvery mane.
His Zapata-style moustache and beard are now so sheared, they barely crackle across his thin wolfish features.
But his punditry still has bite.
He clips his words with the precision of a Linguaphone tape yet condemns like a Teutonic Martin O’Neill – only furrier, and a little easier to understand.
While Breitner’s is a fiercely intense glare, former team-mate Gunther Netzer has developed a sadder stare.
Every morning, every noon, every night, there he’ll be – quizzed for the umpteenth time about France’s offside trap or Croatian full-backs.
But the most inescapable TV star has been the man rejected by 1860 Munich as a teenager, nipping next-door to rivals Bayern instead.
While, in some celestial saloon, that unfortunate 1860 official drowns his sorrows with the Decca boss who snubbed the Beatles, ‘Der Kaiser’ is cashing in.
He’s won the World Cup as player and manager and the Champions League as club president, before organising a World Cup.
Now he’s turned his hand – and feet – to acting. And advertising.
One minute you’ll see Beckenbauer lashing a football into the back of the net, despite his white hair, business suit and brogues.
The next, he’ll play for laughs as a horrified homeowner with a lounge gatecrashed by rowdy football fans.
If only his influence could end German TV’s obsession with giant orange foam microphones, which turn even the most distinguished expert cartoonish.
Arsene Wenger was quizzed with a black mike, but still looked like some hideous flesh-eating bug had devoured half his face.
Imagine 1930s crime caper The Arsenal Stadium Mystery remade as a shlock horror B-movie – now that make for intriguing football TV.
Even Paul Breitner might crack a smile.

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