Soccer commentator, Jon Champion got up, close and personal with our football analyst.
Premier League commentator, Jon Champion took time to chat to Eggs Benedict Ngwenya about commentary, Premier League and his national team. He also revealed his football club, expressed his opinion on the North London “power shift” as well as Manchester City’s sizzling form this season. Here are the questions that the commentator answered from our football analyst.
You surely have a favorite team, how does it feel to call a goal against them?
I do have a favorite team but it’s a team of my city of birth. So, it’s a team called York City which now play in the sixth tier of English football. They’ve been as high as what’s now the Championship and they’ve fallen on very hard times. Very infrequently in my career have I had to call a game against them. I have however commentated on them beating Arsenal in the FA Cup, drawing twice with Liverpool in the same competition and also knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup – winning at Old Trafford. There have been some great occasions but too in far between.
I saw your scripts on Twitter the other day. How long before a match do you prepare?
For a big game, you might spend two days before the big game preparing solidly. For other matches maybe a little less. You may do it in one day but I think that preparation is key because whilst 85% to 90% of the facts you prepare you hopefully will not have to use because the game is so good. You just need to be covered for every eventuality. If something unusual happens you need to have a line to deliver at that point.
Is Manchester City the best team in the world right now?
I think we’re about to find that out in the closing stages of the Champions League whether it’s them or Barcelona. I certainly think by a distance, they’re the best team in England and people have been asking me whether they’re the best team ever in the Premier League. Bear in mind that the Premier League only goes back as far as 1992. I think there’s a good argument that they are. For me, They’re the best English side that I’ve seen since Liverpool 30 years ago. The side of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley who were magnificent to watch. Manchester City are the best English side that I’ve seen since then.
I’m going to put you on the spot now, let’s talk about the North London rivalry. Has the pendulum swung?
It has, in the moment. I think in the same way that the pendulum in Manchester swung three or four years ago. I would say that it has. Tottenham are moving into their new stadium but that’s going to be a challenge for them in itself and of course, for the pendulum to swing fully, Tottenham need to dominate in the North London scene for the next 20 years in the way that Arsenal have dominated for the last 20 years. I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case but the better side in North London at the moment by a considerable margin are Tottenham, but those challenges relate to the fact that the club is run very tightly by the chairman, Daniel Levy and a lot of those Tottenham players are being paid what they would consider to be below their market rate in terms of salaries. So, will they be able to keep the Harry Kanes and the Dele Allis? Toby Alderweireld, I think is a player who may leave this summer, in part because of the salary structure. That in itself is a separate challenge and at the same time you’ve got an Arsenal team who may change the manager before too long, who seem to be willing to spend more money. So, who knows for how long that pendulum has swung.
Do you think England are ready for the World Cup? How well do you think they will do and who is their number one goalkeeper?
I think their number one goalkeeper is Jordan Pickford. I think they’ll do reasonably well but I don’t think they’ll threaten to win it. So, by that I mean I’ll be very disappointed if they don’t get through the group stage. I’d hope they go through the Round of 16 but so often in my career I’ve seen England go out at a quarter-final of a major tournament. I’m thinking at the moment that’s probably their limit.