Steve McManaman gets a lot of criticism for his performances on commentary, especially on European nights, to the point that I have been living in fear to admit this. But the time has come, I’m willing to say it – I quite like him.
I appreciate the issues people have with him, but as co-commentators go, I’m not sure there are many better.
He has played for three of the best teams in the world, and offers the sort of insight that I like to hear. He knows football, and speaks about it the way people I know speak about football.
He doesn’t pretend that the sport is anything it’s not. It’s a game, and in the moment, he reacts as though he is watching a game.
Many have lumped him in with the pundits who do no research, and just show up for a good time, but that is definitely not the case. He knows his stuff.
For example, on Wednesday night, he was well aware that Real Madrid’s Rodrygo scored a brace for the Spanish side against Espanyol at the weekend. I was unaware of that, and I’m not so sure I’d have gotten the same insight from another commentator.
"You talk about the great managers of the modern era, Ancelotti has to be in the mix to be at the top of that tree." 🔥@mrjakehumphrey, @rioferdy5, @JoleonLescott and Steve McManaman look back on another incredible Real Madrid comeback.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 4, 2022
I genuinely like Steve McManaman
His casual nature may be what puts others off him as a commentator, but I find it endearing. While I’m not from Liverpool, I still feel like he is the sort of person I would like to talk about football with in a pub. Nothing condescending or patronising.
I’d rather hear him speak genuinely about the thing he is a legitimate expert on, than a British middle-class journalism graduate who only knows football to be a spectator sport.
Is he biased towards Liverpool when commentating? Probably? Is that slightly unprofessional? Again, probably. Do I care? Not at all. If I watch football with my Liverpool-fan brother, he is biased. My Man United-supporting friends are biased. It makes it more interesting, and he doesn’t let his bias ruin the enjoyment in ways Gary Neville has done in the past.
So long as he can be impartial when another team does something special, him not hiding his support for Liverpool is alright with me.
If you search his name at any point on a Champions League night, Twitter is filled with him being abused for his “shite talk”, but it is starting to feel like people are hopping on board the hate train.
Almost 60,000 people (!) liked a Tweet insisting there should be a mute option when McManaman is on the air, so it’s clear that I am in the minority. But I needed to get it off my chest.
Steve McManaman, you’ll always have me on your team.
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