The former Soccer Saturday regular has given his take on the changes to the show.
The new Premier League season is in its infancy and the same can be said about the Soccer Saturday panel because with Sky constantly rotating their list of panellists on a week-to-week basis, the lineup will undergo some considerable changes.
Of course, this marks a drastic contrast to the more traditional format that the show has used for years, but after Sky made the decision not to renew the contracts of Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas, and Phil Thompson, viewers have been getting familiar with the new setup.
Of course, Jeff Stelling is still there to anchor the long-running football show, while Chris Kamara and Paul Merson continue to provide their colourful insights.
However, one man that has been longer at Sky than anyone else is Liverpool icon Phil Thompson and during a recent interview with Off The Ball, the three-time European Cup winner was asked about his feelings on the recent changes.
“Well, I’ve got Saturdays off! Listen, I’ve had a fantastic time. 22 years I’ve done Sky, right from the very first days with Richard Keys, Andy Gray and myself doing matches in ’92. Soccer Saturday sort of started in 1994/95 with Rodney Marsh, Frank McLintock, Clive Allen, and George Best. I was in that initial gang and I was one of the younger members, but every good thing comes to an end. I’ve had an absolutely terrific time doing it and the show changes, it changes what they (producers) see,” said Thompson.
The Liverpool legend also asked people to be patient with the new format of the show while praising his former colleagues.
“I’ve been there long enough to see my mates both go – Rodney and Frank – so, yes. It will be something to miss. That craic, that banter, and good debate which we had at times – it has to be said – I think it’s one thing that people will sort of miss from our lads, but I think people have got to be given a chance.
“I know people will go ‘these are not the…’ but it took a while for everyone to gel on our programme and we did it for many years. I will miss it but I do have to thank them (Sky) for it. I enjoyed every minute of it. Those guys, I mean, Jeff Stelling is just an absolute genius. Tiss, Charlie, and Paul Merson, I’ll miss them all on the programme,” he said.
Thompson also revealed in the discussion that he was speaking with Sky for quite some time about finding the right way of leaving the show, so the decision not to renew his contract wasn’t that surprising.
“To be honest, we’ve been talking for the last 18 months about the sort of exit for me. You know, because me being sort of older than everyone else and the show having to evolve. But there was nobody there that was ready to sort of change.
“I did have a bit of an idea, you’d have to speak to Charlie and Tiss about how they reacted to their news, but it’s always a shock because you always think ‘I can do this until I’m 90’ but it has to evolve and you’ve seen Andy Gray and Richard Keys move on, so, you know, it’s there but no problems with me.”
You can view Thompson’s interview in full below.
Clip via Off The Ball