Whether the candid camera commentary of the since terminated Andy Gray and Richard Keys was sinister, lecherous or simply institutionalized behavior is a matter for another day. What’s certain is that whoever succeeded the pair of Gray and Keys was bound to be roundly mocked by the Guardian’s Barney Ronay. With Tuesday’s telecast of Wigan Athletic at WBA, Ronay wondered, “Who would Sky plump for in these first gasping, delivery-fresh moments of their post-sexism rebirth? Gloria Steinem? Wonder Woman? Any one of the impossibly glamorous radical feminist media-grrrls currently staffing the Sky Sports News desk? A man called Dave?” David Jones, c’mon down!
Jones loomed into view in the executive swivel-chair after an intro-segment that featured a series of quotes from Confucius, Socrates and, weirdly, the obscure ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Was this a statement? Were we about to witness a new fiercely cerebral Sky Sports, infused with the wisdom of the ancients?
Perhaps not, but we did get the wisdom of Cyrille Regis and Arjan De Zeeuw, a pair of club-specific occasional pundits and politically neutral choices first up in the post Keys?Gray-era studio pundit role. As was Dave himself, who is clearly seen as a safe pair of hands: today Sky announced that he will also helm the forthcoming football-coronary of Chelsea v Liverpool this coming Super Sunday, the kind of A-list gig that would generally have Keys and Gray stomping all over it like a pair of prime alpha silverbacks vandalising a banana tree. He seems nice enough, perhaps a little serious, with the open, pale, tremulous face of the kind of schoolboy who lives in constant fear of losing his favourite Biro.
And so the guys chatted on in a neutral, rambling kind of way, perhaps attempting to defuse any lingering sexism-expectation by appearing almost completely chemistry-free and banter-neutral. “Roberto is a great man manager,” Cyrille opined at one point and this was about as gender?specific as things got, although there was a strangely wince-inducing echo when Alan Parry on commentary blurted something out about “smashing it into the net”.