Jeff Stelling is the hugely popular host of Soccer Saturday, Countdown and, from the coming season, Sky Sports’ Champions League Football. Here, I spoke to him about his career in the media, thoughts on Soccer Saturday and his views on all things Manchester City.
View From A Blue: How did you break into the media?
Jeff Stelling: My first job was at the Hartlepool Mail when I was 18. I eventually broke into radio and then television, firstly at the old TV-am, and started working as a freelance at Sky in 93. I arrived for a day and have been there ever since.
VFAB: Is it something you always wanted to do?
JS: I told my headmaster when I was 12 that I wanted to be a journalist. He was not impressed. But I can’t think I would be much good at anything else.
VFAB: Soccer Saturday, in theory, shouldn’t work – the viewer is looking at four men who are looking at TV screens –what do you think is the key to its success?
It’s not often I’m provoked in writing an article based on what is produced in a paper. Occasionally, there might be a piece (normally by the pathetic Tony Cascarino) that slates City and so angers me into a response. But I’m writing this article as a sort of follow up to a fantastic interview I read in the Independent by Nick Szczepanik. It wasn’t even mainly focussed on City: instead, it was about Brentford’s new manager, and former City legend, Uwe Rösler.
In particular, it was a quote by the German that struck me and led me to write this. Questioned whether the character of the club had changed since Sheikh Mansour took over, Rösler said ”I have to say the new owners are very interested in keeping the tradition and history of the club. They looked after my family when we moved over, helped us out with schools – after all these years and with a lot of people in charge who never saw me play.”
The official list of players released by Premier League clubs was revealed today and the name of Patrick Vieira stood out. A five time FA Cup winner over the course of his career and a fatherly influence in the City dressing room, many felt that the Frenchman was worth another year, possibly as a player/coach.
This is still an option, as we may sign him up for next season despite letting him go, as happened with Stuart Taylor a couple of seasons ago, but the likelihood is that Vieira has played his final match for the Blues. A respected figure around the club, he is no longer a force on the pitch, often bypassed by pacy, direct sides, but his experience is invaluable and I would have offered him one more year.
If you’re looking for a round up of Man City’s main transfer activity, you’ve come to the right place. This is first instalment of what will become a regular summer feature: The Transfer Update.
Sanchez is Chile’s Hottest Prospect
Much of the talk so far this summer has centred on the Udinese attacker, Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean has been linked with a number of clubs, including Barcelona, Inter Milan, Manchester United and City. By all accounts, his preference is to either remain in Italy or move to the European champions, although we have the financial muscle to outbid the others.
No-one knows for certain at the moment where he will end up, but whoever signs him will be adding true quality to their squad. He is arguably Roberto Mancini’s number one target for this window but we face a battle on our hands if we are to secure his signature.
Clive Tyldesley is one of the top commentators in the country, leading ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup and the Champions League. Here, he gave up his time to talk to me about his career, football in general and his thoughts on all things Manchester City.
View From A Blue: In all your years of commentating, has there been any standout moment?
Clive Tyldesley: The obvious answer, and I know this won’t go down too well on your blog, is the 1999 Champions League final. The reason it’s the obvious answer is that Brian Moore retired in 1998 after the World Cup, and I had taken over, having returned to ITV from BBC in 1996. It was important I did well that season, as there were a few others who were gunning for the role, and here I was, a relative unknown, commentating on such huge matches.
We had an audience of nearly 20 million at the moment United pulled it back from 1-0 in the final, so in my first season as first choice, if I had messed up that night, they would never have trusted me with a game of that magnitude again. And I got the scorers right and apparently said one or two things which United fans remember. That night really cemented my place as a commentator and it meant that I went into the following season as ITV’s first choice.
The first ever TV commentary I did was City 5 – 1 United in 1989, and you could say the same about that game in terms of importance to my commentating career.
It’s the end of an incredible season. Expectations have been exceeded and that is in no small part down to the fantastic performances of our players. I’ve rated the squad over the past three days, from the goalkeepers and defenders, via the midfielders to the strikers. But here is your chance to vote for your player of the season.
Our incredible season is over, and with third place and the FA Cup under our belt, here are my season ratings. Click here for ratings on goalkeepers and defenders, and herefor those of our midfielders.
Balotelli - Deserves a whole article to himself! There’s not a lot I can say that hasn’t already been said about him, but it’s worth remembering he’s only 20, living for the first time away from his friends and family, trying to settle in a new country with a completely different culture and a new language. His family are moving to Manchester to join him next season, so he’ll be far more settled then.
Deep down, I genuinely believe he’s a good kid, someone who needs to feel loved. He’s struggled with bibs, claimed never to have heard of Jack Wilshere, suffered an allergic reaction to grass (which is actually quite serious), thrown darts at youth team players because he was bored, winked at Rio Ferdinand, got umpteen parking tickets, given thousands of pounds to tramps and helped a young kid who was getting bullied.
And in between all that, he’s made nearly thirty appearance, scored ten goals, received eleven bookings and been sent off twice. Some of his performances at the back end of the season, most notably the two games at Wembley, hinted at his settling and some of his play, at times, is breathtaking. We’re in for a hell of a ride next season! - 7