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My Euros wish list: More Rooney and a Logan Roy ‘Braveheart’ pep talk

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney has become an endearing and enjoyable presence on TV - Getty Images/Glyn Kirk

The most exciting day of the sporting year arrives this Friday at 6.30pm when ITV’s coverage of Euro 2024 begins. What will the intro titles be like? Will the studio be the triumph of the Russia 2018 World Cup Kremlin backdrop extravaganza? Will they miss the opening goal like ITV HD viewers did in the 2012 World Cup? Will Roy Keane have a go at anyone? Will Gary Lineker wade into an obscure but incendiary debate about animal rights shelters in the Schleswig-Holstein region? It’s all to play for.

‌As it happens, the commercial broadcaster gets a run at all of the first three games prior to the BBC entering the ring to show Italy vs Albania on Saturday afternoon so we will be well familiar with the company of Mark Pougatch, Laura Woods et al before The Queen Mum of Football and pals get to work. Recent tournaments have found Telegraph Sport readers grinding their teeth at some aspects of summer football coverage, so here’s a wish-list for the tournament, with some of the Euro moments we hope match Gazza’s goal against Scotland, and some that raise the dread spectre of Iceland 2016.

‌Many readers have expressed irritation at the BBC’s appetite for covering the sport beyond the pitch and, related, an increasing desire to have diversity on screen seemingly no matter what. This, for some, means anyone who has not played men’s professional football and, as such, there will be plenty of opportunities for grievance with the BBC fielding Alex Scott, Ellen White and Rachel Corsie as hosts or pundits; and Robyn Cowen and Vicki Sparks being on the commentary roster. ITV will engage the services of Karen Carney and Eni Aluko, both of whom, it seems fair to say, are not everybody’s cup of tea.

A less familiar name is that of Christina Unkel, who will be offering expert insight on the refereeing in the tournament. She has been a ref in the USA: nice to see someone other than your Mark Clattenburgs and the Mike Deans of this world getting a go. But for a certain Joey Barton-ish sort of viewer there will never be any upside to having non-males talking. It seems deeply weird when you think about it but there we are.

‌Where once the bookings of the pundits were somewhat interchangeable, there is no doubt now that ITV’s is a more spiky line-up with Ian Wright, Keane, Gary Neville and Graeme Souness arguably more watchable, and certainly more likely to frighten the horses, than Alan Shearer and Micah Richards on the BBC, affable and comforting. Rio Ferdinand is booked for Auntie, hopefully with a tighter remit than his TNT free role, and it will be good to see more of Wayne Rooney, who is growing into rather an endearing and enjoyable presence with his halting humour and enormous face.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou looks a potentially inspired get for ITV, very charismatic, and it will be interesting to see what Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Röhl brings, other than being German. Or perhaps that will be sufficient. David Moyes is more of a known quantity for the BBC but one has high hopes for Joe Hart, who always comes across as a thoughtful chap and might yet have a delicate matter or two to handle if Jordan Pickford keeps giving the ball away. No doubt there will be plenty of rapping and whatnot video introductions for England games from people that one hasn’t heard of, and if the bookies are offering odds about Logan Roy doing a stirring Braveheart tub thumper before any given Scotland match, that’ll be one to put your money on.

‌Finally, and on the subject of inspirational Scotsmen, this column was sorry to hear that Alan Hansen is unwell. He revolutionised football punditry in the early nineties: sharp of mind, dress and tongue, an exciting and vigorous change from the woolly cardigans of the David Coleman era. May he battle his illness with the same efficient authority he turned on countless instances of “terrible” defending.

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