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Obsessed with Big Four? Not Focus

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Dan Walker | 08:12 UK time, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Great news! My chin has finally defrosted after the Football Focus excursion to the Emirates on Saturday. I really enjoyed the show, but we did get a few complaints from people who weren't happy about a perceived Arsenal bias. I've had a good chat with the editor and there are a few things we need to point out in response.

First up, I think it's important to say that we are not obsessed with the 'Big Four'. After all, our first three out-and-about shows this season were at Manchester City, Fulham and Portsmouth.

Secondly, these programmes are usually divided into three sections. The first 15 minutes are effectively a match preview, the middle section focuses on other issues, while the last 15 are used to take a look behind the scenes at our chosen club.

On Saturday, there were only two Premier League matches on - Arsenal v Everton and Birmingham v Manchester United.

We had hoped to speak to Birmingham manager Alex McLeish but he wasn't able to talk to us (he will be on this Saturday), while our planned chat about the game at St Andrew's had to be dropped from the programme when we got the breaking news from the Africa Cup of Nations.

We know we can't keep everyone happy, but our on-the-road shows are very much the future of Focus - our next planned trip is to Burnley for their game against West Ham on 6 February.

The good news is that plenty of people are watching Focus and the vast majority of feedback is really positive. Our last two programmes were watched by the biggest audiences for three years. Obviously that has nothing to do with the snow!!!

Preparation for Saturday's programme was a little different because of the weather. From Wednesday onwards, we were fearing a call-off. When I went to the Emirates to film on Thursday, old ladies were wobbling on the ice and little lads were holding on to lamp-posts.

Snow falls during Arsenal's game with Everton at the EmiratesSnow falls during Arsenal's game with Everton at the Emirates

On Friday, games were disappearing from the fixture list every 20 minutes. By 0830 on Saturday, Wigan v Villa had gone and Arsenal v Everton was the only remaining three o'clock kick-off in the Premier League.

Editor Mark Cole and I travelled to the Emirates together on the tube.

On our journey, we discussed the running order and how we were going to deal with developments in Angola.

A mother sitting across from us whispered to one of her sons that the men opposite were from the television. The lad, who I assume was about 10, never looked up from his Nintendo DS.

On arrival at the stadium, I nipped to the toilets to apply the clothing required to battle the estimated wind-chill factor of minus four.

I went for five layers up top and three downstairs, including a pair of long johns that my mum got me when I went off to university back in the mid 1990s. This was only their second-ever use. They first came out for a fancy dress party a few years ago. I pulled one leg over my head to look like a burglar.

Rehearsals are always crucial on location, and at 1030 we "walked through" the programme. with various members of the crew pretending to be Dixon, Lawrenson and Keown.

I don't know about you, but I enjoyed Dixon's interview with Andrey Arshavin.

The little Russian has a habit of coming out with some crackers. In the past, he has questioned whether women should drive at all and voiced his hatred of British salad.

This time around, he chose to vent his fury at parking in London and his dislike of bank accounts. In Russia, he was always paid in cash. £75,000 a week in cash? Little man... big pockets!

Raymond Blanc was a great laugh. I'm still not sure how you can switch from supporting Manchester United to Arsenal, but I love the passion he has for both his food and football. After the show, I made perhaps my stupidest decision of the last six months in response to an offer from Monsieur Blanc...

"Hey Dan. Thank you so much for having me on," said the flamboyant Frenchman. "Why don't you come up to the Diamond Club for your lunch?" The Diamond Club costs £25,000 to join and then a further £25,000 a season. Brother Blanc has not one but two Michelin stars.

Bearing all that in mind, can anyone explain why I declined his fantastic offer and told him I'd be heading to the press box instead? Very poor decision, although it should be said that the press room tucker at Arsenal is rather impressive. The mini fish and chips at half-time bordered on the spectacular.

Anyway, Stephen Pienaar's wonder goal for Everton helped the healing process. Get the dink wrong and you look like a tool, get it right and everyone's a winner.

Before I go this week, just time for the latest behind-the-scenes footage for you to have a look at. I hope you enjoy it.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Nice blog again Dan.

    You mentioned "perceived Arsenal bias" i'm sorry i missed the programme last week but what was it you said so that people would perceive it that way?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Dan,
    great timing for the " big 4-obsessed -not US " response, eh ? No alternatives last week. Ho, ho.
    However, with almost EVERY 606 board containing continual and almost institutionalised criticism of BBC AND Sky " big 4 obsession " ( the Sky 4 ) why, oh why don't you really treat the masses as the voice of British football support and STOP pandering to the 4-some. Really stop ! Go and do something else more interesting instead Almost ALL the coverage of the so-called Big 4 is a rehash of " Sir Alex formerly Fergie says this or says that ". MOST OF US DON'T CARE ! true.
    Do something for the lower league teams - they really need the cash mate !

  • Comment number 3.

    Focus was a bit Arsenal-centric this week but taking Dixon and Keown to the Emirates it was always going to seem a bit smug or to coin a phrase like "comfy pair of slippers viewing".

    I still enjoyed it though and look forward to further on location episodes.

    You were a fool not to take Monsieur Blanc up on his invite. If anything costs £25k + £25k a season it's worth a go for free in anyones book. Except yours. Still - good to see you're all about the square meals and not snacking so much this week.

    And one last point re Pienaars goal you say "get it right and everyone's a winner" in this case perhaps not? What was the final score again?

    Aaprt from that - top blogging.

  • Comment number 4.

    Maybe your colleague Phil McNulty can now write an article explaining his apparent bias towards Liverpool.

  • Comment number 5.

    Long ago gave up on Focus and MOTD. The big 4 preoccupation has gone on far too long. Its a little club of ex premier players. Thank heavens Liverpool are fading. It might make them think. The other 72 clubs rarely get a mention. It does football no favours at all.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello everyone

    LABSAB9 (#1) I think it was just the fact that we were based at Arsenal, had 2 Arsenal pundits out of 3 and there wasn't much else to talk about.

    bobren (#2) I see where you are coming from but you can't accuse the BBC of dancing to Fergie's tune... he's not spoken to us since about 2004! You are right that there is a lot of football out there that doesn't get covered but ignoring the top four is a bit like talking about the lovely flamingoes when you are being charged by a rhinoceros. Hopefully you will enjoy a piece we are doing this week on Colchester v Norwich.

    realronburgundy (#3) Good point about the final score... I take it squarely on my very cold chin.

    PulpGrape (#4) I'll leave that one with Dr McNulty.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dan ignore the negativity.. you go where the stories are and a 2 game week doesnt give you much scope..

    What do you think about Coyle going to Bolton.. Im a Celtic fan and was mightily relieved we didn't get him in the summer.. He may be a nice fella and plays decent football but everything is The Owen Coyle show.. and has anyone from Bolton seen how his team have defended this year??

  • Comment number 8.

    Good effort Dan, liking the blog yet again....

    I'm happy to say that having a certain service providers "plus" box, I can series link Focus every week! Even as a Man Utd supporter I enjoyed the show this week, it's nice seeing behind the scenes at other clubs, especially the brand spanking new(ish) stadiums! I didn't feel like it was biased though, like you said, a couple of the O.B shows that you have done have been from Craven Cottage and Fratton Park. Lee Dixons interview with Arshavin was really funny I thought, he's a right little joker....

    I wonder what Lawro will have to say about Liverpool getting beaten by Reading last night? Not forgetting the fact that they aren't really in the running for anything but the Europa Cup. I very much doubt that they'll come in the top four this season. What do you think?

  • Comment number 9.

    The national media are bound to cover the top 4 more than other teams, for the simple fact it attracts more viewers. It's not rocket science.

    If you want more stuff about your club stick local, as that's where it tends to be. See it as a treat when your "non top 4" club features on a national show, or in a national paper.

    As a Hull fan, i've got tons of newspaper clippings and video tapes i've recorded and saved from when we've been on, as it very rarely happens. Especially when we were down in Division 3 but, I don't expect us to be shown all the time. It's nice to see a feature about us from time to time. That does me just fine. Stick your attention and pressure on the big 4, it suits me.

    Good blog.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is a 'big 4' bias and #9 Cyril is correct in saying why it happens.

    However, the BBC should not be chasing viewers they should be reporting on the league as a whole.

    Let Sky drown in their own hyperbole and fawning to the big clubs. The BBC should be reporting much more evenly on all 20 teams in the league.

  • Comment number 11.

    sorry Cyril the national media should not automatically cover the so called top 4 more than others and Focus is part of the national media

    TV ( including focus) radio 5 live and the papers pay lip service to most of the premier league - they view the bottom half clubs as fixture fodder and given that only 6 clubs are in what you would call the south of the country they cant be bothered trekking up most of the time- hopefully the BBC sport move to manchester might change mindsets in that regard

    Dan youre response to Bobren was awful particularly your flamingo analogy - please dont patronise us , after all we pay your wages and we're not going to be grateful that youre paying a token visit to Burnley in Feb- the programme should have been there well before now.

    Im sure there's plenty of much more interesting stuff than the parade of managers we normally get saying the same old, same old , Media just need to be prepared to stretch themselves - something i dont expect to see when the easy option is always available

    but here's hoping

  • Comment number 12.

    Right, baked potato has been conquered. Here we go...

    Mikey (#7)I think Coyle is an interesting appointment and the best thing in his favour is that he is not Gary Megson. I do worry about the Bolton defence but the main problem is that Coyle's style doesn't fit with what Bolton have been playing for the last few years.

    OptimumDJ (#8) I heard Lawro on 5 Live last night and I think even he was surprised at how poor Liverpool were. Top 4 looks a big ask for this season. I am still not sure whether getting rid of Rafa will help. Maybe it's just time to write this season off and plan for August!

    Cyril (#9) and MrBlueBurns (#10) raise an interesting point about attracting viewers. You're right about the BBC needing to different but it is also a responsibility to make the programme as interesting as possible and we want to reflect the biggest stories out there. Sadly, most of the time, that is at the cost of some other - just as worthy - tales from elsewhere. As a Crawley Town fan I know what I am talking about!!!

    and Cocokin (#11) my tongue was firmly placed in my cheek over the flamingo comment. It wasn't intended to patronise. As for a southern bias - Focus has reporters and cameramen based all over the country (far more out of London than in it) and it's hardly a token visit to Burnley. We've only been on the road 4 times this season and there are many teams that could claim we 'should have been at their club'. We'd love to get round the whole country but we have to start somewhere!

    I also think you are wide of the mark in your comment about the media not being prepared to stretch themselves. I'd be happy to hear your suggestions for what would be on this weeks programme. Would you ignore the trouble at Liverpool and the financial issues at Manchester United?

    Keep them coming.

    Olaf Mellberg

  • Comment number 13.

    As an Arsenal fan, I very much enjoyed Saturday's show :) I think broadcasting from different grounds is a great idea. If there is a bias, then maybe it's wholly necessary - most people I meet are fans of a 'big4' club.

    Dan - very much enjoy your blog and presenting. You and Lawro are brilliant! Like BBC's answer to Ant & Dec

  • Comment number 14.

    Dan & Bloggers,
    I did not see the FF 'Arsenal Show' living in the land of the free and home of the brave. HOWEVER, while Dan the FF 'talking head' does not, for good reasons tell the world who he supported all his life, some of us KNOW IT WAS NOT IN A MILLION YEARS THE GUNNERS.There is not a pro-Arsenal bone in Dan the man's body.
    I don't mean to suggest that he is against them any more than he is against Chelsea, Fulham or West Ham. It's just the guy does not shout for Arsenal or any of these clubs. As for the rest of FF what else could they focus on that weekend?

    Dan, did you ask Mr. Keown about Rudd VN coming to Emirates? I raised this last week; I so hope you did. I'd love to know his thoughts, don't imagine you would be able to go public with them for one minute though.
    Who is Olaf Mellberg?

  • Comment number 15.

    As a Bolton fan the criticism of Owen Coyle's appointment as well as Megson's sacking is really making me laugh. The home fans hated Megson's football, the away fans hated his football and the media hated it as well. Therefore, we employ one of the most talented young managers around to bring a more attractive football package and still Bolton gets criticised. Please will you all make up your minds.

    Also, I'm a bit sad that the Bolton-Arsenal game wasn't due for last week. The thought of the London media and the Arsenal players visiting the Reebok dressed as Michelin men would have been a sight to behold. Even Sol Campbell would have looked slim beside them.

  • Comment number 16.

    Ho hum. Everyone is an expert. Dan, carry on the (pretty decent) work mate. You have a job and are paid by the BBC to do it, thankfully not (directly anyway) those detrimentors (is that a word, and does J.K Rowling know?) above.

    2 things spring to mind. The BBC, like any other TV company, needs viewers. If FF viewing hit the toilet, it would be gone. Pure and Simple. But too much bias and you get the rubbish like that written above.

    It's a bit like; the (regular) programmes on TV are theoretically the better ones. If they are rubbish, they will be dropped (wish I could get rid of some of the tosh on there right now but, hey ho!). Ergo, you need the viewers to keep the ratings up, to keep the show on TV. Chances are you'll probably get a larger audience for a behind-the-scenes at Emirates than maybe at Reebok. So boys and girls, get over yourselves.

    I suffer having to watch every other team known to mankind coming ahead of my side (Arsenal - in case you hadn't fathomed that one) on MOTD. It annoys me sideways, but I still watch. The thing that eventually will stop me watching is, or rather are, the presenters - including guests and 'analysts'. First up; PUT A TIE ON! They look like a bunch of scruffs just been to the pub and had an idea to sit in someone’s living room, watch the footy, and have a laugh and a joke. Next, vary the line-up. And gentlemen (and I use that term extremely loosely) talk a bit faster and clearer. I use as an example the US shows where the guys, and the girls by the way, talk swiftly, clearly, eloquently (even if they do oftentimes use Americanism's!) and reasonably intelligently about their subject matter.

  • Comment number 17.

    Fiery Dan,
    don't fret ! I wasn't offended by your flaming comment, go-ing or not. Sir Fergie, I recalled immediately having pressed the button, may not be your best mate......but he isn't ours either. Boring ! Wenger, boring !boring, boring, blind as well as boring ! The FSW - still boring (if he's still in a job by the end of the day it will save the reds £20m, anyway ) and even Carlo - dove' ce' il stadio ? - Ancelotti. Boring !

    We have heard everything we want to hear from the rhinos.

    We probably don't want to hear a lot of what the flamingos have to say, but - hey - they really might be more interesting once or twice, might they not ! Look forward to hearing from Paul Lambert the Colchester escapologist now canary-cross-dressing-flamingo.
    Ciao. bobren

    BTW My teams are Villa, Walsall, 'Gers, Milan and lately Mansfield, Olaf Melberg - oh my Lord ! Ours is the only Lord....Paul McGrath,...loved as well as the little miracle who shall forever be known as Mussi Salifou.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm not a huge fan of The 'Big Four' but the shows I have watched this season, and the blogs I've read - I can honestly say I've never once thought FF was bias, so keep up the good work there.

    Snow meant I got to watch Saturday's show and I found it very intresting, I particularly enjoyed the Phil Neville interview, and it was great to see inside of what is a fantastic stadium. Well done Football-Focus!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Dan, missed the show but enjoyed the blog. Why is FF not available on iPlayer? Would have liked to have seen the interview with AA.

  • Comment number 20.

    Dan, I love your blog. I love it in my socks and in equal measures when I am bare foot. I am currently wearing shoes and I love it all the more.

  • Comment number 21.

    You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can´t please all of the people all of the time.

    That´s just the way it goes.

    Hi Dan, nice effort again.

    Last Saturday I got stuck in a bit of a Blizard and unfortunatly only managed to catch the last quarter of an hour of the show, being an Arsenal supporter who grew up about three minutes walking distance from Ashburton Grove I was gutted I missed it.

    Wow, A double Michelin star chef at the Emirates, outside Highbury when I was a lad it was the choice between a hot dog or a hamburger for 20p or 25p, and not Lardy da cuisine for 25k + 25k a year, it all seems to have gone a bit mad.

    Speaking of mad, how unlike you sir to turn down some free nosh, don´t you like haute cuisine? Or was it because there was no fig rolls on the menu? ;)

  • Comment number 22.

    while you may claim not to have a top 4 bias, you certainly do you best to unmine and demean Hull City every chance you get.
    Why the anti Hull bias ?

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear oh dear, everyone's got such a complex about their club. Why is it that every Premier League fan I come across is always moaning about how they're never first on MOTD? Why is it that because someone else gets talked about more on one episode of FF that the BBC is biased in favour of that club? Perhaps it would be safest if Dan just popped up on screen and told us all to talk amongst ourselves for 45 minutes. Maybe then we'd all get to hear about what we want, which, apparently, is our own opinion about our own club and nothing about any higher placed club, dammit, because that's just gonna make us feel bad!

    Liverpool are by far the most interesting story this week, and do you know why? It's because Burnley wasted their opportunity to be the centre of attention by making a thoroughly disappointing managerial appointment. End of story.

  • Comment number 24.

    There is a general Arsenal-Liverpool bias in relation to Football Focus and Match of the Day. The pundits that are chosen reflect this with Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown showing a clear bias towards those two clubs. There should be more balance when considering the pundits on a weekly basis.

    Is nobody else bored of the MOTD format and the choice of pundits? I used to prefer the coverage on ITV.

  • Comment number 25.

    ITV?!?! Sorry pal, I'd rather listen to Hansen and Lawro than watch adverts. Also, would you really rather Andy Townsend and Robbie Earle? Do me a favour.

    Anyway, I only popped back because I was just looking at the list of presenters for the new 'Late Kick Off' shows, and the teams each show will be covering. I didn't see Cardiff or the other lot from down the road anywhere on the list. Don't want to jump to any conclusions, it could be I wasn't looking hard enough, or that they just weren't included in the article I read. Can you shed any light on this Dan?

  • Comment number 26.

    Red Sox Gooner (16)
    You are so right. At least going by the little BBC I get to see on other peoples' cable or satellite from over here in USA.

    Dress properly, speak properly. It is not difficult.
    If people do not like it viewing figures will show.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a Birmingham fan I can say that I was more than a little disappointed that about the only mention we got was to say that the game was on despite this being the only other Premier League match being played.

    You say that you had to pull the report because of the Angola shooting, fair enough this was breaking news, but there were other items in the show that could have been pulled. Keown talking about his photograph, interview with Arsenal kitman, view of dressing room bath etc. etc. What have they got to do with football?

    Blues match featured the form team in the PL against the Champions and it didn't merit a report. A very poor show in my opinion.

  • Comment number 28.

    i missed it, i was on a train. gutted. my toes have just about thawed out too

  • Comment number 29.

    So many things to talk about...

    Zendog (#13) I am going to show your comment about Ant and Dec to Lawro... that might send him over the edge!

    blaenorynyclwyd (#14) I did ask him about transfers but he didn't mention RVN. I will leave you to do your Olaf Mellberg research.

    RememberScarborough (#15) I agree with you that Coyle is a forward thinking appointment. I really hope he succeeds at Bolton. My point was that he might struggle Bolton's style but I hope he does.

    RedSoxGooner (#16) I love a made up word and 'detrimentors' is right up there! Are they similar to detractors? The ties came off a few years ago and I don't think they will be coming back in a hurry.

    Bobren (#17) I think I must have been fired up by the baked potato. I love the way you took the flamingo analogy and brought it to a whole new level.

    Thanks FN (#18) and the iplayer thing is all to do with rights. We just can't put it on the iplayer but you will find a few interviews on the football focus website.

    EricDantona (#20) that is the most worryingly brilliant post of 2010! Turning down Blanc still hurts me Holloway2Holland (#21) and the what's all this about an anti-Hull bias Venez tiger (#22)? Phil Brown is on the programme, either live or in the studio, more than any other manager!

    Well written anightatthechopra (#23) but not so thankful about post number 25! There is indeed a Welsh issue when it comes to the new Late Kick Off programme. I don't think you will find them on that but Cardiff have been on the live BBC championship game already and will be again before the end of the season.

    Bluenose (#27) you make some more than valid points there. Hopefully we can make it up to you with a full length interview with your boss this Saturday and thanks xDAVEYx (#28) for the toe news.

    See you soon

    Vinny Samways

  • Comment number 30.

    Personally I'd love it if the Focus lot and the Beeb realised that their are teams in three other countires that have supporters paying the licence fee yet their teams very rarely, if ever appear on FF. Dan, could you tell me why this is? Whilst I appreciate that some may view Scottish, Welsh and the N.Ireland leagues with great regard their still no reason to be so snobbish in ramming down the almighty premiership down everyones throat-which i'm sure fans of lower league teams in England would agree with.

    I would never wish ill on any supporter of any club, but with so many clubs in the prem in financial predicament, it'd be interesting to what would happen if some of them went bust for example Pompey compared to say a club like just as an example, Darlington. You can bet your house the Beeb and FF would focus their attention more on the Prem club, just because their in the Prem-just because Darlington has less of a crowd at its games it doesn't mean the club is any more or less important to their fans than pompey is to their fans.

    So all in all, it would be great it FF Focused upon all clubs in all leagues instead o just promoting the self-presevation society that is the premiership and also realised that clubs outside Rangers and Celtic exist in Scotland

  • Comment number 31.

    Misses the Arsh interview, where can I watch it?

  • Comment number 32.

    Dan, when are you going to put the Andrei Arshavin interview on the BBC Sport website? I'm eager to see a replay!

  • Comment number 33.

    Sorry Dan

    i have to take friendly issue with you and your views need challenging - happy to debate

    Youre not going to convince anyone that most of the media arent Southern biased , we all know the BBC ( not focus) has regional offices but thats like Mps trying to say its the system thats at fault- youre London centric and you know it - be humble enough to admit it or at least acknowledge it

    and as for ignoring The Man utd finances- please do it , most of us couldnt care less - again only the media get wound up about it , but its safe territory , no risk , as for Liverpool , theyve lost again , so what you can only squeeze so much out of a bitter lemon- nothing new or different there

    and as for alternatives

    How about a real life football story such as clubs who are really up against it - ie the BSP ( thats non league ) clubs such as Altrincham and Wrexham who havent played for over a month because of the weather, how are they coping

    What about Reading, rubbish in the league yet 2 great efforts in the cup- how, why ,

    Leeds united - the renaissance , been there this season yet, cant remember seeing you at Elland Road - apologies, if you have

    Fixture pile ups , the nightmare of fitting them in ( include prem in that if you like)

    theres loads more if youre staff are prepared to stretch themselves - but like i said , im not holding my breath

    and as for that previous comment no 16 by redsox gooner- tell him who pays you - he doesnt seem to realise its the licence fee payer - if im wrong tell us who it is and i'll stand corrected

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the response to my question. I confess myself disappointed. This news does rather take a dump on my impassioned defence against perceived BBC bias. That said, I guess it would be difficult to justify devoting the same amount of airtime to just the two Welsh clubs in the football league as gets given to a whole region full of teams like all the other editions of the show.

    Still, I am disappointed. Us and that other lot are both in the playoff positions after all (although I may as well throw in that we're still higher than them before we let in any more late goals to let them overtake us). Still, there's always the Football League Show, at least I still get the opportunity to moan when we're not the main game on there.

  • Comment number 35.

    Dan man, re #29 I know who Olof Mellberg is. He is the first guy to score a goal at the Emirates. I was asking who your mate OlAf Mellberg was. I still do nto know. Surely this is not a repetition of last week's Vieria with one 'i'.

  • Comment number 36.

    I may be reading this wrong, but are people simultaneously accusing BBC sport of being London-centric, at the same time as complaining about the amount of coverage Manchester United and Liverpool are getting?

    Geographically, most of the Premier League is in the south, and like it or not, the PL is where the national interest is. (I'm classing the Birmingham area as south for these purposes, and yes, I know its a slight stretch). On a weekend when only 2 PL games are actually surviving the weather, I cant see the problem with the PL preview show focusing on these matches.

    As for the comment about Leeds United coverage, some people in my part of the world would suggest that Lufc have had more than their share of newspaper and TV coverage over the last 10 years and are probably happy to keep their heads down and carry on with the job at hand.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a Gooner I thoroughly enjoyed the show on Saturday. Yes, it was a bit of an Arsenal love-in but I have spoken to non Arsenal supporting mates this week who loved the behind the scenes look at our relatively new home and the hisory lesson about Herbert Chapman. I enjoyed the banter between Keown and Dixon and the Vic Akers gibe about Keown's red boots.
    Love the fresh approach to the show. Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 38.

    Looking forward to the interview with Big Eck this weekend. As a Rangers supporter I'm pleased to see him doing so well down there. I decided to adopt Birmingham City as my EPL team of choice this season due to the involvement of McLeish and Barry Ferguson and have really enjoyed watching them.

    What do you think the chance are of McLeish taking over from The Govan Knight when he decides to finally call it a day?

    On another note, surely Joe Hart is a stick on for the England No1 jersey this summer! James and Robinson have experience, fair enough, but neither of them have ever exactly been a safe pair of hands, and spending a season floundering about at the wrong end of the EPL can't be ideal preparation for a World Cup.

  • Comment number 39.

    Got to agree with anightatthechoppra 4.19pm - BBC are far above ITV in presenting football, always have been and I'm so glad they haven't dumbed it down for the younger ones. Thought FF was dreadful this week though, if I wanted to see round that ground I'd book a tour and it was unjustly biased and very uninteresting to most of us. So what if it was the only game on in London? And yet another interview with arshavin ! Goodness he's boring and full of himself.
    My biggest complaint about FF is it isn't available on bbc i player which is rather pathetic. If you're a decent supporter going to follow your team you're on your way to the ground at that time. In infuriates me that we can't even watch FF when we get in after attending a game. Have a rethink will you?

  • Comment number 40.

    so mr 39, with only 2 games scheduled to go ahead, one of which was screened live by another broadcaster, what would you suggest the BBC do on their weekly build-up to top flight football? if this is the start of regular insights into the behind the scenes of top flight clubs, i for one am looking forward to seeing beyond the pitch and the concourse. all i've seen of the arsenal is the north east corner because that's all i need to see when i go, so the behind the scenes focus is most welcome, im just gutted i was on my way there when they looked round MY teams ground.

  • Comment number 41.

    Right, loads of things to comment on. I've just got to go and film the opening to this week's Focus so I shall get to all these on my return...

    Lack of Scottish, Welsh and Irish football
    Cocokin's second rant of the week (some good ideas in there though)
    anightatthechopra's dump
    Big Eck and Joe Hart
    iplayer fury (most annoying thing in the world i know)

    I will also try and find out where the Arshavin interview is aswell.

    See you later.

  • Comment number 42.

    jacey26 [and others]

    Re: The lack of FF availability on iPlayer - so it's pathetic and infuriates you?
    Well, those are exactly the sentiments engendered in me when I read comments such as that.
    Are video-recording devices unheard of in your neck of the woods?

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Dan I rather enjoyed last weeks show and totally agree with you that everytime I've seen an interview with Shava, he comes on with a cracker, he's brilliant, I also totally agree with RedSoxGooner. To all those sado's who complained, what on earth are some people on? Considering all the other teams with the exception of Brum v Utd "mysteriously" called their games off when in a lot of cases it was totally unnecessary, what were you supposed to feature the programme on, clear pathways to those grounds with cancelled matches? Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that with some clubs welcomed the extra time off to allow injured player back - but!

  • Comment number 44.

    11. At 1:56pm on 14 Jan 2010, Cocokin wrote:

    Give it a rest will you, I'm sure Dan pays his wages as well, if you don't want to read it then don't!!!

    Great blog, always enjoy reading as I never get to watch FF because of rugby every saturday, but will get to watch this week because of the weather meaning the rugby is off. One question I would like to ask is, if Rafa was to get the sack, who do you think would be a good (and realistic) replacement?!?

  • Comment number 45.

    scouse mara

    i enjoy reading the blog , but please dont tell me or anyone else we cant question what the BBC do with our licence fee or give our views on the programmes , im sure Dan is big enough to take all views on board even ones he completely disagrees with

    As for your question - keep up mate , read the BBC sport football page- the Liverpool MD put that one to bed last night Rafa isnt going anywhere

  • Comment number 46.

    Pants. Too busy. I need to go home now to take Mrs Walker out for dinner. I will return to answer some of those queries tomorrow. Apologies. Have a good night.

    Viv Anderson

  • Comment number 47.

    Ok programme over. Finally to address some of your points.

    First up... flaminhaggis (#30). You are very right about the lack of Scottish Football on Focus. We are hanging our heads in shame in the office. Must try harder.

    Couple of people asking about Arshavin. Sadly we had some techincal issues which meant we couldn't upload to the internet. Very sorry about that. The best thing to do is stick Focus on series record if you're out and then you can watch everything. Most of the interviews are on the website on the Saturday afternoon.

    anightatthechopra (#34) "This news does rather take a dump on my impassioned defence against perceived BBC bias". Perhaps the best blog comment of the week. Hopefully your BBC love will return soon.

    Chris Davidson (#38) Hope you enjoyed Big Eck. I still don't think he's top of the list to take over at Old Trafford but his stock is rising. As for Joe Hart... what a run he's having although it will come to an end now I have moved him into my fantasy league team.

    jacey26 (#39) sorry you didn't enjoy the programme too much last week. The iplayer thing is a permanent frustration and all down to the rights issues. It would great to sort it out but the premier league are very precious about their footage. TheGreatGunnerB makes a good suggestion though (#42).

    scouse_mara (#44) I really don't think they will replace him until the end of the season - whatever happens. I think Hiddink will interest Liverpool (or any team). Kenny Dalglish is waiting in the wings to fill a gap if anything happens. Who would you like?

    Cocokin (#45) you are right we are robust enough at Focus to handle the criticism. I disagree with you but admire your passion and I think some of your ideas (#33) were great. You are right we have been to Leeds a couple of times and Simon Grayson is always entertaining.

    Thanks for all your comments. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Tuncay's just missed a good chance for Stoke. Hansen's just said "I will be amazed if Liverpool win this!" We'll see.

  • Comment number 48.

    I like to see 'behind the scenes' and the Arsenal FF kept the interest of this northern, championship team supporter. An inside story on a less elevated, less corden bleau, team might redress the balance. I'm glad you didn't accept the Blanc offer (we all know what a temptation that must have been)and I hope football will begin to think about the crazy money that surrounds the game. The smaller clubs will never be able to compete. I know that greater financial parity is making the Premiership more interesting, the big 4 perhaps developing into the big 6 or so, but its all going the wrong way. Celebrity, in its many forms, including football, costs too much.

  • Comment number 49.

    Saturday's focus had me throwing things at the screen. Kindly point out to Jonathan Pearce that Liverpool cannot afford to replace Rafa because any replacement would demand a significant transfer fund. It has nothing to do with Rafa's £20m 5yr contract. Liverpool would only have to pay him the contract in full if Rafa didn't get another job for 5 yrs. He would be snapped-up in seconds by a Spanish or Italian top flight club.

    Also, in Aquilani Rafa has not signed a £20m player only to leave him on the bench. Because of his injury record, the initial fee was £5m. He will only ever be a £20m player if he stays fit enough and plays well enough to make the number of appearances at which the further payments become due. His previous club has published the payment schedule on their website. Does Football Focus have researchers?

    Whilst I'm at it.....Rafa's rant. A few days before United are due to play Chelsea Rafa points out that Ferguson and his club get away with far too much. Rafa is portrayed as having lost the plot when it is perfectly obvious that all he is doing is putting pressure on the referee before a big game.

    I've come to expect this kind of reporting from the press and also from the commercial channels but not from the BBC.

  • Comment number 50.

    Cheeseisthedevilswork (49) what an excellent rant! Some solid points. Good point about benitez but there is also the question about his costly background staff. Appreciate what you are saying about aquilani as well. I'll check the website and throw that nugget at lawro later this season. I will set fire to our researchers as punishment.


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