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ITV has come in for some considerable criticism since deciding to replace Clive Tyldesley with Sam Matterface as its lead football commentator.

The broadcaster caused uproar in 2020 when it decided to end Tyldesley’s 22-year run as its main voice – a decision that left the veteran “upset, annoyed, and baffled”.

“Let me make it quite clear,” he said in a social media post at the time. “I have not stepped down, I have been moved aside.

“I’m just going to miss the England games so much, even more than I’ll miss the Champions League games and that is all.”

Tyldesley, in his new role as No 2, has since forged a partnership with Rangers and Scotland legend Ally McCoist that has earned the pair something of a cult status in the game.

It’s also left a lot of people questioning why they are not the senior pairing over the much-maligned Matterface and his regular co-commentator, Lee Dixon.

sam matterface
Sam Matterface, who also works for Talksport, has been ITV’s lead football commentator for four years. (Credit: Getty Images)

And it was no different after England’s dogged win over Slovakia in the second round of Euro 2024 in Germany.

England needed a Jude Bellingham wonder goal to force extra time against their opponents before Harry Kane nabbed a somewhat undeserved winner to send his side into the quarter-finals.

And Matterface was criticised for a number of blunders throughout, including accusations of time-wasting against the Slovakian players, and a suggestion that the fallout following defeat for England would be “violent”.

And, with minutes left on the clock and England trailing by one goal to nil, Matterface told ITV’s viewers that manager Gareth Southgate “has achieved so much over the last eight years” before suggesting his time was up as his country’s head coach.

And it was a comment that didn’t go unnoticed by Sky Sports’ golf commentator Ewen Murray.

In a post on X, Murray wrote:

When another X user pointed out that the use of “we” and “us” are “common themes from English commentators commentating on England”, Murray replied: “Not Clive, however. Just commentary on the flow of the game.”

He added: “I think Clive and Ally are so good to listen to. They speak the way they see the game, and stats are only used to back up what they see, not to fill the space with the stuff too many commentators do. Stats are for pundit talk.”

• Jim Nantz’ silence for Tiger at 2019 Masters was “waste of a moment” says top commentator

Matterface was also keen to note that England captain Kane, who plays his football in Germany for Bayern Munich, had not scored at the Schalke O4 stadium in which England and Slovakia met.

It was quickly pointed out that Bayern and Schalke are in different divisions, but even so Murray wasn’t impressed.

“A stat that is totally irrelevant,” he wrote.

And if you’re wondering why Murray hasn’t been on your TV recently, he explained why in another post: “Off for a while,” he wrote. “A bit of gardening, car cleaning and doggy walking, writing, housekeeping and window cleaning etc. Back next month for a couple of weeks. Sadly not the Seniors at Carnoustie which is always a special event. July a big week (sic) in Scotland.”

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Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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