Jeff Stelling has been speaking about the new lineup on Soccer Saturday and his future with Sky.
The start of the new Premier League season inevitably meant one thing, the return of Soccer Saturday and Jeff Stelling. However, the lineup had a very different look after Sky decided not to renew the contracts of Matt Le Tissier, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas.
As always, Jeff Stelling hosted the show but in a break from the norm, Tony Pulis and Tim Sherwood provided the lead analysis. Elsewhere; Clinton Morrison, Glen Johnson, and show regular, Paul Merson, were all onboard too alongside Sue Smith, while Chris Kamara continued in his role as the roving reporter.
Opening the show, Stelling made a very obvious reference to the three men that were axed from the panel when he joked: “The Premier League is back, the Football League is back, Soccer Saturday is back, Merse is back but not everyone is back… The fans are not back.”
However, during a recent interview with The Guardian, the broadcaster did say that he’s apprehensive about developing chemistry with his new colleagues.
“It does (take time). Or it might never develop. You just don’t know. So I’m apprehensive. The show is different anyway, because of Covid, in that we only have two people in the studio with me and three elsewhere. That changes the dynamics. The comfort is that Merse is still in the studio with me. Tim Sherwood will be with us. Tony Pulis is going to be in, as will Clinton Morrison who has done lots of shows, and Glen Johnson. So there will be five as opposed to four. But that’s by no means, as I understand it, a permanent lineup,” he said.
It’s understood that Sky will not be making any announcement about a new permanent panel to be working alongside Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday. The broadcaster is set to rotate the pundits on a weekly basis with the likes of Robbie Fowler, Joleon Lescott, Matt Murray and Glenn Murray all expected to feature in the coming weeks.
When asked if he’d be still presenting the show in five years, Stelling gave a definitive answer.
“No. There comes a time for everyone when it’s right to stop. I don’t feel it’s my right time at the moment. If I wasn’t at Soccer Saturday I’d be looking to do something else. I’ve got two boys, aged 22 and 20, and a daughter of 17. I don’t know what sort of job they’re going to get in this coronavirus-ravaged age. So I feel a responsibility to carry on while I’m earning enough to support them.
“And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. I love the Saturday afternoons. I don’t enjoy everything that goes on around it as much. I don’t just mean what’s happened to the guys. I mean the research sitting at a laptop all Wednesday and Thursday. But you have to do it,” he said.
Regarding the decision not to renew the contracts of Thompson, Le Tissier, and Nicholas, Sky released a statement which said: “We are changing some parts of our football coverage – Matt, Charlie and Phil have done a great job for us over the years, and they will leave us with our sincere thanks and very best wishes.”