Neutrality is the Key

Wednesday 12 December 2001

Paul Thorpe writes after the Liverpool match...

Two games in one night (don't forget the reserves were also in action this evening) meant that 'work' dictated that I watch the Liverpool match on SKY TV. The first time I've not watched The Whites live in a very long time, and after tonight I'll be making sure it's the last.

I've often wondered what it's like to experience the build up and the 'expert' pre and post match analysis. Tonight I learned that I've not been missing much...

Richard Keys introduced what can only be described as The Michael Owen / Liverpool show, and by the time the programme was less than 20 minutes old I found myself wanting to switch off, wondering if anyone else apart from 'Golden boy' and a team in Red were taking in part in the evenings proceedings.

Even the supporters featured during the commercial break were wearing Liverpool shirts!

Tonight's 'neutral' panel consisted of Roy Evans, Steve McMahon and Mr Richard Keys, who did his level best to ignore Fulham and talk up Liverpool -and in particular Michael Owen.

I don't think I've ever seen a two hour show virtually dedicated to one man and his team. Quite astonishingly Keys even let slip "Let's hope it's Michael Owen's night tonight".

As much as it might come as a surprise to the producers and Mr Keys not all of us were hoping that Owen would have a good night. To the contrary, 100's of good Fulham fans, stranded on the Motorway during the day due to an accident, ended up relying on SKY's coverage in pubs from Birmingham to Manchester.

I can only imagine how angry and let down they will have felt, like the rest of us hoping for some decent coverage. They might as well have tuned in to Liverpool TV.

Most of the time Fulham were referred to as 'they'. You could be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool were playing foreign opposition in a European Cup competition. We have a name and we're proud of it - Fulham...

Wouldn't it be interesting if SKY had come up with a stat for one sided coverage? Tonight it would have read something like Liverpool 50% Michael Owen 48% They 2%.

Even when they did bother (seemingly half begrudgingly) to speak with Andy Melville and Edwin Van der Sar after the game all they wanted to ask was "how good is Michael Owen"... I thought Edwin looked offended, and so, I'd imagine was every watching Fulham fan.

And of course, just like Newcastle, West Ham, Everton and Leeds before them, Liverpool had an off night. No real mention or concentration on our game, and certainly not the credit we deserved.

Jim and I are often accused of bias during our match commentary. All I can say is that it's a good job someone redresses the present media balance. I can honestly say we give the opposition more credit and air-time than Fulham received tonight. God knows what we can expect when we play Man Utd?

It's lucky I haven't bothered with Sky's Season Ticket. If I had, I'd be sending it back tonight marked for the attention of Richard Keys, who looked thoroughly gutted that Liverpool hadn't won and that Owen hadn't scored...