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Sitting side by side on high stools in the Monday Night Football studio in front of an invited audience answering questions from presenter Dave Jones, pundits Roy Keane, Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville don’t look much like a crack crack team. House analysts have come together to advertise Sky Sports coverage of the upcoming Premier League season as a boy band announcing a comeback tour spurred by multiple midlife crises or a large HMRC bill.

With Kelly Cates, Emma Saunders, and Guardian columnist Karen Carney unavailable due to previous engagements, the empty stool at one end is reserved for one of the original Spice Boys, Jamie Redknapp, who is late in a state of affairs. which is unlikely to please his bearded Irish bandmate. To be honest, Keane looks in a good mood and looks fit, tanned and extremely skinny.

In fact, he seems so jovial that when questions are opened to the word it seems like the best time to ask if his well-documented and violent “precedent” on the pitch with Alfie Haaland could somehow cloud his judgment when at some point in a very near future is called to lavish praise or criticism on Erling, son of the former Manchester City midfielder. As that famous tackle on Haaland the Elder demonstrated, Keane is after all a man who clearly knows how to hold a grudge.

During a previous group discussion about City’s new signing, Keane had remained silent as his colleagues took turns discussing the pros and the precious cons of the club’s decision to sign the superstar striker from Borussia Dortmund, but he was quick, at the I start with a conspicuous narrowing of the eyes, to nullify the idea that it could be anything but scrupulously correct in future evaluations of the player’s performance in the Premier League.

“I’ll judge based on what I see,” he said. “In last week’s game, Jamie said he missed a chance or two, but I thought his movement was absolutely fantastic. He is absolutely an extraordinary player; I have no doubts in my mind that he will be a hit at Man City and score a lot of goals. When Phil Foden shot last week, if you look at his reactions he was way ahead of everyone else. So it’s not a problem for me to talk about a player because I may have had an affair with his father. I just hope to give it a fair evaluation, as I do with all my comments. “

The eventual arrival of an apologetic Redknapp (airport problems) coincides with a discussion about the future fate of Cristiano Ronaldo, with no one in the panel seeming wiser than the rest of us regarding the player’s short or long term future. For a man they expect him to get regular playing time for United if he is unable to force a move. Curiously, the question of the complete unfitness of the undeniably gifted but aging and increasingly immobile striker for Erik ten Hag’s high-intensity pressing style has been resolutely resolved.

With Keane, Richards and Redknapp apologized, the remaining trio stays behind to discuss the Sky Sports institution which is Monday Night Football. Difficulties are raised in finding new themes to marry or choose in their post-weekend time slot. In an age where there is an often overwhelming amount of forensic analysis of the game’s often atrocious minutiae available across multiple platforms, finding new topics to discuss can be difficult.

Neville explains that the opening hour of the tactical discussion on the first episode of Monday Night Football in just over two weeks will be dedicated to the new Manchester United manager and cannot stress enough that it is imperative that he and Carragher do it better than anyone else. .

During a cost-of-living crisis in which many are struggling to make ends meet, I wonder what they might say to someone – apologizing to those in much more severe financial distress – who can no longer afford two overpriced TV subscriptions and are forced to choose. between Sky and BT Sport.

“We are better than BT Sport,” says Carragher, in a practical way. Maybe, but you don’t have the Champions League, the counter arrives. “You can check it out in the pub,” says Neville, seemingly unaware that a particular option will no longer be within the reach of many when those multi-thousand-pound energy bills start coming in the mail.

“To be fair, it shouldn’t be about BT or Sky,” says Neville. “What they have been doing for the past seven or eight years is fantastic. They have great experts, but so do we. I watch Super Sunday on Sky when I’m home and just think: ‘Wow!’ We have 128 Premier League games, and I know I’m sounding like a club now, but you have to look at the Premier League. You have to watch it.

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“He’s every week, he’s home, so you’d always pick Sky Sports for that. And I’m not anti-BT because I’m not anti-BT. “

His comment provokes an impromptu joke from the decidedly unincorporated Carragher, which provokes loud laughter, the intervention of one of Sky’s PRs, and the extraction of a reluctant but solemn promise from the Guardian that would not be reproduced here. . “Can you quote me on this – isn’t that what Fergie said?” Carragher insists, prompting one of the gag’s two subjects, MNF’s ringmaster Jones, to point out that he’d really prefer it if we didn’t.

Sky Sports will broadcast 128 Premier League matches live exclusively, starting Friday

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