Two of football’s most likeable characters recently met for a chat on the BBC’s The Premier League Show, with an intriguing possibility for the future of a TV show revealed during the interview.
No, this wasn’t Joey Barton telling Charlie Adam about his wish to one day host a program in a similar vein to Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men, but Juan Mata lightheartedly warning Gary Lineker that he could one day replace the Leicester and England legend on Match of the Day.
The two ambled around a museum chatting about a variety of things from pop art to the innate differences between English and Spanish footballers – an unusually scholarly conversation in a world inhabited mainly by neanderthals discussing new women or new golf clubs or anything that might make their penis seem bigger – but it was when they sat down to talk about Mata’s future that the conversation threw up its biggest surprise.
Mata had been telling Lineker that if the job had one drawback, making clear that he was self-aware enough to realise the idea of a footballer complaining about their lifestyle is ridiculous, it would be that he isn’t able to go out and enjoy himself with friends very often. Lineker advised him that would be possible after retirement, the response made with a wry smile after the former striker’s own activities post-football were well-documented in the press.
This led to a discussion of what Mata might do with himself when he hangs up his boots, and drew an idea from the Spaniard that startled his interviewer.
“I would love to present Match of the Day,”
Mata said in a playful manner.
Lineker momentarily looked worried by the remark, laughing as he replied.
“Oh jeez, I’m in trouble!”
Although Mata wasn’t being completely serious when he mentioned the idea, we couldn’t help but wonder what the enduring show would be like should the Spaniard one day take the reins.
One way in which it could evolve would be to take on a more cultural role. Perhaps a part of the show where Juan travels to small English towns to go and watch the local lads play and find out about the idiosyncrasies of the area in the process. Think of the joys that could be derived from seeing him in a chip shop in Hartlepool, smiling fondly as Jeff Stelling explains why the club and locals are known as the Monkey Hangers before the two go and watch a mind-numbing 1-1 draw with Yeovil.
We’re also dreaming Mata taking time out from the analysis to look deeply into the camera as he reads his latest blog post. Reading One Hour Behind is always an engaging experience, no matter the mundanity of the actual material, just imagine how captivating it would be with the playmaker’s dulcet tones and soothing stare. It would be a much more desirable way to be sent to sleep than highlights of Sunderland against Middlesbrough.
But who would be the co-presenters? An odd couple scenario with Robbie Savage would be interesting, maybe throw Frank Lampard in there to raise the mean IQ. Mata and Pat Nevin would make quite the pair too, considered football chat intersected by discussions about their favourite indie hits. Just please God keep Michael Owen and Glenn Hoddle away from the lovely man.