Gary Lineker has called out Guardian journalist Barney Ronay over a piece he wrote on Match of the Day, in which he suggested that the show had "slipped from hip to horrible."
Lineker, who has presented the show since 1999, took to Twitter to defend the programme, accusing Ronay of offering nothing but "customary bile."
In the original article, Ronay draws on a popular strand of criticism of the show—namely, that the format, now approaching 50 years old, has simply become outdated in today's era of analysis and coverage:
Analysis has moved on, leaving Match of the Day a tiny island of simplicity, Hansen as its gilded figurehead, its basic flatness, that sense of simply having a view, without actually ever looking any deeper, chiming energetically with the wider sense around English football of set-in mediocrity, of a blazered, track-suited sofa-bound conspiracy of complacency.
Lineker responded, setting up the following debate:
@barneyronay Rather than spout your customary bile, why don't you suggest how you would change a programme that remains hugely popular?— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 6, 2013
@GaryLineker doesn't need changing it's fine. But while you're on - you're nicely waspish on here. I'd ask to see a bit of that on the tv— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) September 6, 2013
@barneyronay You'll get plenty of that when we have live football and TIME. MOTD is an action led show and always should be i feel?— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 6, 2013
@GaryLineker and people are passionate about it hence all the tweets. Beeb wld have had to spend thousands for this level of market research— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) September 6, 2013
@barneyronay Get it every day of every week. Football generates emotion, passion, rage, like few things. Even a little highlights show.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 6, 2013
So what is the future for Match of the Day? It has lost a lead pundit in Alan Hansen from the end of the season, but does it still have a place in the lives of most viewers?
On the one hand, yes—as Lineker points out, people still care enough about the show to have strong opinions about it. When nobody cares is when the lights will go out on the programme—possibly while Alan Shearer is mid-sentence.
On the other, if you look hard enough, you can usually find a stream of any game going live. Gifs and clips of the goals are available within minutes of them happening. By the time MOTD turns up late on a Saturday evening, the key stories of the day have already been analysed and considered, the major incidents dissected and viewed by those eager enough to catch them.
It seems like a trend only going in one direction, but you can have your say in the comments section below.