I only started watching this last year once I got digital cable. Now, I am like a crack whore with this show. I freakin' love it. Mondays are the best when they have Carlos Machado and Jeremy St. Louis along with Bobby McMahon doing the EPL recap. Those dudes are funny and I only understand half of what Bobby says which makes it better. Kinda reminds me of Sportscenter when it first started. Much more informal and the hosts were funny, but not cheesy Stuart Scott funny. As far as I know, it's the only place where you can get highlights of all the major European and South American leagues.-AusTexSoxFan
Opinions of Fox Soccer Report (FSR) and its anchors have been strong and divided from the beginning, with a notable negative peak in 2009-2010. By contrast, the only anchor universally praised in the pages is Bobby McMahon who remains the show’s gem. But comments sections and message boards are oddly silent on Jeremy St. Louis whose departure marks the end of an era on the show, according to the tribute he was given on his final appearance.
St. Louis is the only current broadcaster who has been with FSR since its launch and it's easy to see why. His chisled Canadian face is boyish, but his delivery is steady and seasoned. His narrow voice range contains plenty of inflection. He doesn’t risk crafting a unique persona, but neither has he reduced himself to a vessel. He is acutely aware of how much he should impress himself into a show.
Through longevity, he became the network’s guy-in-our-living-room. Subdued and occasionally mischievous, and with a subtle reflective humor, he was firmly installed as lead anchor once rising star Max Bretos left the show. Not an easy feat given Bretos’ only mode of being is an amphetamine-like excitation. As dirtynine said of Bretos:
Also – did anybody hear Max Bretos call the Boca/River match that was replayed over the last few days? Holy cocaine and whiskey. It's like listening to a punch-drunk 17-year old gay Dennis Miller. Again, I fully approve.
When possible, ESPN2 integrates American references into its English Premier League programming; occasionally it’s spoonfed.
Avram Grant is asked about his pilgrimage to Los Angeles to meet Lakers coach Phil Jackson. As everyone knows, Jackson is beheld as a guru, a wiseman, a Zen businessman, which qualifies him to receive visitors who have traveled far for the privilege.
Grant confirms that he did meet Phil Jackson and had a nice talk with him. ESPN’s choice to have a short pregame interview segment is not a bad idea, except Grant is not a particularly good interview. Although those who know him testify to his affability, he looks like a lugubrious yellow moon regardless of circumstances. It would prove difficult to extract entertainment from him.
The impression from this brief exchange is that Avram Grant, the struggling manager of a team likely to be relegated, has recently sought the advice of Jackson, not over the phone or email, but by two twelve hour flights. Some brilliant kernal or dust of genius brushed off Jackson’s wide shoulders and was taken back to London, a fairy dust that could be inspiring and lift Grant and his team off the floor, but little of the exchange is recounted, and the nugget of wisdom is not revealed.
Perhaps this is Grant’s attempt to keep his cards close to his chest. Perhaps it is not in his nature to run with a question and charm us with a clever reply. The unsaid comes off less tantalizing than it could have been, yet one wonders what the exchange between the two uncommon characters was like. This omission is not the only one. Neither Grant nor the interviewer tell us that the meeting in Los Angeles happened more than six months ago.
The exchange is really pointless, it had nothing to do with with a manager seeking answers in a desperate and tense time for the club; only the simple connection to American culture mattered, the effort to render the foreign easily digestible. Does international football, and soccer in general, still have to travel through common denominator? Hasn’t the American viewer—notwithstanding the political right— advanced since the 1994 World Cup marked its real birth in the country?
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…