Steve McManaman Improves
After embracing the inanity and windbaggery of the American model of sports announcing, Steve McManaman’s rich experience as a player finally becomes an asset worth hearing.
ESPN 2 slots their Premier League game on Saturday mornings, often at 4:30 a.m, meaning Steve McManaman is the first person one sees on a weekend. Such an encounter should not be overlooked.
The single most important asset of a former athlete-turned-commentator is the experience he or she had as a player, otherwise, without the broadcast skill or training, they are often useless. A former player can add some insight and substance to what is usually rather fluffy or inane chatter. Anecdotes that listeners would not have heard in any other context, save an autobiography, would be a worthy contribution.
McManaman has had a few terrible games, particularly the Manchester United-Arsenal game back in December. Only recently has ESPN or McManaman realized his potential and integrated it into the script. Ian Darke provides the setup and it comes off relatively smoothly, often beginning with a chipper Hey Maca, what do you think of this…? For example, during the Stoke-Sunderland game McManaman gives us a great anecdote about Wimbledon FC:
Ian Darke (ID): It’s a real winter’s day here, in February, isn’t it?
Steve McManaman (SM): It’s a beautiful day to play football.
ID: Did you like it when it was like this?
SM: Yeah yeah I actually didn’t mind it when it was nice and wet. I wouldn’t have liked to play Stoke….
ID: You never had to play Stoke…
SM: I know I’m lucky enough. I never had to play this [team]….When I played though we had a team called Wimbledon. It was like Stoke but ten times as worse. Big, strong, aggressive, standing on your toes all the time, touching you while the ball was elsewhere…