Perhaps the most shocking aspect of England’s narrow and somewhat undeserved victory over a nation ranked some 35 places below them in the FIFA World Rankings – at least if you were watching on ITV – wasn’t the way in which the Three Lions huffed and puffed against a supposedly limited Scottish side, but the appearance of recently-installed Manchester United boss David Moyes on punditry duties.
Amidst the electrical surge that accompanied tens of millions of half-time kettles being turned on the “I could’ve said that” inanities burbled away inconsequentially, just as they have done for endless England friendlies down the years, but this time the presence of the Manchester United manager made up and sat in his studio chair offered the segment a bizarre twist.
What was he doing there?
It seems almost unthinkable that the new manager of one of the world’s biggest clubs should be spending precious time on seemingly self-induced media responsibilities just days from the beginning of what is likely to be the most taxing and high pressure campaign his managerial faculties have ever faced.
All the while his new employers are still in need of squad additions in order to ensure that they are not on the back foot as they seek to avoid being swamped by the new and improved Manchester City or the Jose Mourinho-powered Chelsea.
Less media-friendly City manager Manuel Pellegrini can be backed at 2/1 to gain more trophies than Moyes this term, whilst Mourinho is also an underdog in the 2013/14 trophy battle with the Scot at 17/10.
Sure enough there have been similar appearances from managers still in jobs such as Michael Laudrup on Match Of The Day, or – more bizarrely – Steve Kean ringing up Radio 5’s 606 programme to chin-wag with Jason Roberts whilst in charge of the Blackburn Rovers comedy troupe, but when was the last time you saw Sir Alex Ferguson or Mourinho wilfully remove themselves from their own pedestals in such a manner?
Being seen to be chin-wagging and cracking beige jokes with Adrian Chiles and Lee Dixon hardly engenders the kind of awe-inspired respect that managers at the biggest clubs in the country have traditionally cultivated.
Furthermore, such appearances imply a kind of conceit much at odds with Moyes’ image within the game and one which fans are sure to remember if the Red Devils stutter in the early stages of their bid to retain the title they won in 2012/13, for which they can be backed as 5/2 third favourites.