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Race for the Premiership (Pundit) Title...

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The flurry of transfer activity as we approached deadline day was typically frantic, ludicrous and just a touch exciting.

Frantic, because those looking to beat the drop invariably took those last minute gambles they hope will help them to keep in touch with the pack prior to the opening of the January deadline. As per usual the gambling is predominantly the preserve of those with limited transfer funds.

Ludicrous, because of the sums involved (... and yes I am aware how old this makes me sound), particularly involving those at the top end. Theo Walcott was reportedly 'umming' and 'aahing' over whether on to accept Arsene Wenger's offer of a long-term contract at just £75k a week, whereas the poor lad felt he's worth £100k a week.

Blimey Arsene, what the hell's the matter with you... how's he supposed to pay the bills?

And a little bit exciting because maybe, just maybe, your team's Chief Scout has unearthed a little gem from a barely heard of foreign land who will take the Premiership by storm. This type of excitement is again mainly reserved for those of us in the limited budget category. The excitement for the top six (or is it five?) is different... their excitement is derived from which foreign superstar they can lure for mega-bucks.

This season the flurry of activity has not been confined to the teams on the pitch, but with the teams of TV pundits and/or 'experts' (I prefer pundits) also being subject to a similar free-for-all.
Well... perhaps not on the same scale, but you get my gist.

Match of the Day (MOTD) has traditionally stuck with a conservative, experienced, some would say aged, panel with Messrs Hansen, Lawrenson and Shearer forming a solid - if unspectacular - spine of the team. The summer merry-go-round saw them lose one of their 'youngsters', Lee Dixon, who it appears was seduced by an improved offer from ITV.

A shame, in my opinion, as he was the one who spoke with clarity, was free of clichés and gave us a top-level insight that didn't treat us like complete idiots.

In place of Dixon the Beeb have opted for yet more experience. Harry Redknapp and Mick McCarthy have both been rescued from the 'Job Seekers' queue and provided with some gainful employment - at least until 'H' decides he'd like another crack at this management lark.

Both will bring with them some straight talking - in McCarthy's case some REALLY straight talking - and a modern manager-eye view that may give us an occasional glimpse of something we didn't already know. In an ideal world, both would gradually - over time - replace the less than 'sensational' views of the Liverpool Fan Club, but I somehow doubt it.

In the same way that Premiership managers are made to look foolish if they leave their multi-million pound South-American superstar on the bench, MOTD producers would get some quizzical looks if Hansen's reported £1.5M pa was not put to good use.

As for Lawrenson... let's not even go there.

ITV have fared rather better than the Beeb over the summer transfer window - even without the lure of Premiership football - and Lee Dixon should complement nicely the Roy Keane / Gareth Southgate combo. Despite being sworn enemies on the pitch (anyone remember that FA Cup semi-final when Keane trampled all over a forlorn looking Southgate?) they have provided a good foil to Adrian Chile's dry and occasionally witty presentation.

Sky's youth policy is an interesting - and no doubt very expensive - one. With the 'regulars' slots being taken by the youthful exuberance of Redknapp Jnr and Neville Snr we are often left listening to some excitable squabbling as the two young bucks taking opposing views.

Deliberate? ... possibly. Annoying ... most definitely, but there's no doubting their enthusiasm for the job.

Saturday afternoons on Sky have a slightly different feel. In a similar vein to MOTD, we're confronted by a slightly younger - but no less clichéd - team of experienced ex-pros who are kept in a semblance of order by the excellent Jeff Stelling. With a full afternoon of live TV to cover we see probably 'more of the person' than we'd likely chose, with the 'laddishness' on show being reminiscent of that once kept within their respective changing rooms.

In summary, I expect ITV to emerge victorious at the end of the season, with the Sky lads just missing out on a place in Europe. Rooted at the bottom - and hopefully relegated - will be the Beeb's MOTD dinosaurs, although their stay in the top flight could possibly be elongated if Messrs Redknapp and McCarthy are given more airtime.

If there is a TV god, the MOTD team will be replaced in the top flight by the up-and-coming MOTD2 team led by the excellent Colin Murray.

That would be great... but I'm not holding my breath.