The Big Match: Live

ITV have held the rights to broadcast some live Champions League games for quite some time. It has quickly become an important part of their football output. They will take on FA Cup games and some England games from next season. So are ITV up to it?

Presenter: Steve Rider

Steve Rider is about as professional a presenter as you can find. His low-key approach is often regarded as being a ‘safe pair of hands’ no matter what he is fronting. He came over to ITV to front its F1 coverage but within a few months he had usurped Gabby Logan as the face of football on the channel. He’ll never give a bad outing but it was interesting that the channel went hard after BBC presenter Adrian Chiles to become the face of football for ITV. Certainly not someone with whom you could find fault.

Commentators: Clive Tyldesley & Peter Drury

Clive Tyldesley has been the #1 commentator at ITV since Brian Moore retired after the 1998 World Cup. He is most famous for calling the 1999 European Cup Final when Manchester United scored twice in injury time to defeat Bayern Munich. His call on the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer goal will live on in folklore. One of the best calls of one of the most important goals in English football history. A real class act who is without a doubt a top drawer commentator.

Peter Drury is the clear #2 at ITV and is a steady if unspectacular pair of hands. He has handled big games well when he has to step up. Drury seems very to rely strongly on his co-commentator, if he has David Plat he seems a lot worse than when he is sat alongside Jim Beglin.

Co-commentators: David Pleat & Jim Beglin

David Pleat is just a terrible co-commentator. There I’ve said it. I’m trying to find something positive to say about him but I’m really struggling. I know some think he give some wonderful insight, including the excellent Martin Samuel of The Times but I just don’t see it.

Jim Beglin is a co-commentator whom I never used to rate but he has quickly zoomed up my rankings. The reason I like Beglin is because of comments like this. What he said about Aurélio is spot on but you’d not expect to hear it. He seems to talk sense and talk it in a style that football fans can enjoy. Definitely a riser who should get the big games alongside Clive, allowing ITV to kick David Pleat to the curb as it were.

Touchline Reporter: Gabriel Clarke

Gabriel Clarke has been the man at ITV for pitch-side interviews for quite a while now. Often seen hounded Sir Alex Ferguson for an interview for big ITV games, he asks good questions but always seems to ask one too many. I can’t remember just how many times I have seen him ask an extra question when it is clear the manager wants to go to the dug-out. A good solid pro, he is clearly good at his job and is only bettered by Geoff Shreeves amongst the current crop.

Pundit: Andy Townsend

Andy Townsend is the only full-time pundit that ITV seem to use these days. Certainly not the worst about, gives a good insight into the game, talks articulately and with some passion. Has been around with ITV for a while and has certainly got better as time has gone on.

Overall

With the increased ITV output from next season it’ll be interesting to see who they bring in to bolster the ranks. Having failed with an attempt to bring in Adrian Chiles, it looks as though Steve Rider will stay to front coverage. I wonder if Jim Beglin can finally elbow his way past David Pleat and whether they’ll swell the ranks of pundits or keep bringing in guest ones on a match-by-match basis.