The time has almost come for Jeff Stelling to release his death like grip from Gilette Soccer Saturday and run away into the sunset. He just needs to be given that little nudge. Perhaps a one-way ticket to Portugal, too.
The Stelling Countdown
Bored of the intelligence and levels of wit, Stelling opted to go and host Countdown. No surprises there. Sat behind a desk, making a few witty remarks, talking to some middle-aged people about words they couldn’t pronounce and cheering good scores. Really not too dissimilar to Soccer Saturday, then!
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll do presenting, I’ve done it for 40 years. I’m not sure how long it will go on for. I might want to put my feet up. I’m getting on – the next decision will be retirement.”
The earliest time for the Soccer Saturday star to leave would be at the end of the season. However, he may well be tempted by Sky to stick around for a bit longer. With such a cushy job, though, Stelling may well think about putting those retirement plans on hold. But for how long?
I can reassure everyone that it will be a long time before “unbelievable jeff” retires 👍 pic.twitter.com/4gwZGnpZVY
— Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) March 23, 2017
Ah, the old ‘I’m retiring, wait, no I’m not’ routine.
It’s Unbelievable Jeff
In the immortal words of Chris Kamara it really is unbelievable just how Stelling manages to put up with Paul Merson’s drivel every weekend. However, more unbelievable is it has got to the stage now where the Gilette Soccer Saturday programme is no longer about football. Stelling and co. now rock up on a Saturday afternoon wear a suit, a headset, watch some football and have a mothers meeting. Throw in some abuse towards Merson and Kammy when they’re struggling. There you go.
Stelling is picking and choosing when he wants to work on Soccer Saturday. It has reached the point where during International breaks Stelling no longer ‘wants’ to host the Soccer Saturday – so his stand in Julian Warren will host the show when necessary. Whilst this is unfair, it also perhaps shows the lessening of the importance of the show in his life. Could we see him leave in the near future after all?
Oh, wait, he’d quite like to to go and ogle Rachel Riley. Oh, hang on, he has had long enough to burn the image of Rachel Riley into the back of his mind. He wants to focus about football again? Then, Riley follows Stelling back to Sky Sports and Jeff is staying all of a sudden? Unbelievable.
Journalists vs Ex-Players
One thing you have to give Stelling kudos for is that he didn’t have to rely on self-importance to land him the role. No, Stelling is actually a journalist, believe it or not. Alongside him has been a plethora of ex-footballers who can just about put together a full sentence. Surely Sky can’t expect viewers to sit and watch this for hours? You’d get more analysis heading down to your local Wetherspoons. Even that table full of the drunk old blokes. Better banter too if this tweet following the supposed retirement ‘exclusive’ is anything to go by…
With the news Jeff Stelling is set to retire, lets look back at when he engineered one of the finest moments in Sky Sports News history… pic.twitter.com/koiyx9OZnG
— FanLeague (@fanleague) March 23, 2017
Credit where it’s due, though; Stelling won the Sports Broadcaster of the Year award four successive times from the Sports Journalists’ Association. Having an actual sports journalist in such a role is rare. As the vast majority of football pundits and commentators are made up with ex-professionals. Whilst there a select few who do the job brilliantly, most are horrendous.
Match of the Day has also become a chore. Listening to Gary Lineker bleat on about this that and the other before Jermaine flamin’ Jenas pipes up to have his say? No thanks. At least the BBC’s Final Score and Football Focus at least feature journalists on it now and then. BT Sport have a solid sports journalist in Jake Humphrey as their go-to man. But, much like their competitors, they are let down by their team of ex-footballers.
So really it’s just down to whether you’re #TeamJeff or #TeamRetire…
With a plethora of candidates to chose from it will be interesting to see who would replace Stelling when and if he retires. Will they attempt to play it safe and fail to revive this dated show which even Stelling is now struggling to keep alive? Or, do they go rogue and aim to go bigger and better?