The build-up to Arsenal v Manchester City had been pretty intense. Despite the midweek Champions League football, this Premier League tussle between two title challengers had top billing. It’s the game we’d been looking forward to for months.
But when Amazon Prime announced their team which would be covering the game, it was taken up a notch. Like names of bands etched onto the Glastonbury poster, these greats were heralded for the big game - and on the Pyramid Stage with mics in hand, were the best commentary duo in the business.
The fan reaction was akin to if Liam Gallagher walked out hand-in-hand with Noel this year. There was genuine pandemonium on social media as the man who gave us such lines as “And Solskjaer has won it!” would grace the Premier League’s biggest game alongside his good friend McCoist.
- Man City secure season defining win over Arsenal
- Clive Tyldesley talks about 'the greatest title decider ever'
- Premier League odds with Betfred*
“One of the reasons that I think Ally McCoist is such a gem in UK football broadcasting is that I think he is in touch with the average viewer,” Tyldesley told The Sportsman last year. “With the average fan. I think he is the kind of guy who you could walk into your local, see him at the bar and feel as if you can sit down next to and have half an hour in his company - and you could. And it would be the best 30 minutes of your life because he is the most wonderful company. But he is amenable, he is accessible.”
The pair offer a refreshing change to the same old, and now quite tiresome, voices on Sky Sports. Martin Tyler is an iconic broadcaster in his own right, but it feels like he has lost his enthusiasm on the mic, despite consistently being given the biggest games. By contract, McCoist in particular was like a lively puppy, genuinely delighted to be at the Emirates on Wednesday night as Manchester City secured a 3-1 win.
Tyldesley was just as gleeful, happy to be on centre stage again after being dismissed from England games by ITV in 2020. He deserves it too, as the voice of a generation of football fans. Despite this article full of praise, the two commentators are keen to make sure the match isn’t about that. They are there simply to enhance the experience, not to dominate or ruin it. It’s a balance the terrific duo have got down to a tee.
Ally called a bunch of gathering Arsenal attackers at a set piece ‘the Red Arrows’, the pair discussed the penalty incident with intelligence and McCoist still found time to have a little jibe at Tyldesley for spending Valentine’s Day in Paris. The game may have been a wonderful watch, pivotal at the top of the Premier League, but it felt like you were watching it with two enthusiastic pals, rather than your grandad.
Tyldesley gave the Manchester City goals which secured the win the full beans, while the pair managed to avoid the usual pelters that commentators get on Twitter after a game. They were neutral, they were excellent. They should be used more often.
If anything, it points to a sad scenario where two men so good at their job, and you can throw Peter Drury into that mix as well, aren’t top of the list for major broadcasters. Both Sky Sports and ITV should be throwing everything at the very best commentators to get them to cover the best games. It’s a crying shame that the treat we all enjoyed was a rarity, rather than a regularity.
Amazon Prime in general deserves huge praise for the manner in which they have approached Premier League football. They’ve got the best people in for the job and instead of creating clickbait clips with controversial conversation, produce the best content they possibly can. If Sky or BT won’t employ this iconic duo, Amazon needs to expand their football coverage. The more these two are on our screens, the better.
*18+ | Be Gamble Aware