OPEN-NECKED shirts, no socks, rap music. Where is all this trendification of the World Cup going to end?We got an inkling of what was to come during the Beeb's World Cup preview on Tuesday night when Des Lynam, Alan Hansen, David Ginola and Gary Lineker turned up togged out in designer clobber.
Des, Alan and David, turned up again in Paris on Wednesday for Brazil versus Scotland sans ties along with Jimmy Hill, for probably the first time he has ever appeared on TV without appropriate neckwear.
RTE got on a similar gig yesterday afternoon with the debut of the Andy (Townsend) and Niall (Quinn) double-act for Italy's 2-2 draw with Chile in Bordeaux.
Andy and Niall fit snugly into Network 2's overall policy of aiming towards the youth market, something the channel has extended to its afternoon World Cup coverage.
And RTE have taken a leaf out of Sky's book by opting for a TV phone-in. Football phone-ins are great so long as they are on radio. On telly, they just don't work.
HEAVY on style, light on content, must be the verdict on this format so far. Andy and Niall would probably be better off with more time to share their own views on things.
Instead, they had to field an inquiry from Eamon in Limerick who wanted to know why no one was talking about the Dutch and Darren in Limerick, who has doubts about Alan Shearer's form since coming back from injury.
Andy is new to this game, but nevertheless looks comfortable and competent while Quinn did well on the Shearer issue.
RTE's big guns were out again last night, with jackets, for Cameroon v Austria, John Giles and Jim Beglin joining Bill O'Herlihy.
Gilesy didn't fancy Brazil on Wednesday and was even less with Italy yesterday.
``They are un-Italian looking'' was his verdict on the Azzuri who wore white, while Chile were ``very poor at the back.''
There was a sharp contrast in attitudes, if not opinions, over on BBC 1, where Hansen was ``really looking forward to the way Cameroon play.
Their players won't be organised, it will be great to watch.'' Gilesy, on the other hand, thought the African nation produced great natural players but lamented their lack of coaching and discipline.
JIMMY MAGEE was in Toulouse, ``the Capital of the French air industry'' (welcome back Jim!) where it was ``pullover weather.'' He pointed out that one entire side of the stadium was occupied by the media.''
So, after the entertainment provided by Brazil and Scotland, the excitement of Morocco v Norway, and the further trials of the Italians against Chile, we got zilch from Austria and Cameroon who between them produced a game so boring it felt like it would never end.
Until that is, Njanka Beaka produced an incredible run and goal with 15 minutes left. ``Pick it out'' said McGee, a phrase more favoured by Marty Morrissey in recent times. Those of us who remembered the Austrians disgraceful alliance with the Germans at Spain '82, allowed ourselves a wry smile before Tony Polster blasted and equaliser from six yards.
``Cameroon left the door off the catch,'' said McGee. ``Youre guaranteed excitement from Cameroon,'' commented a vindicated Hansen.
Gilesy stuck to his guns and complained about poor Cameroon defending. The rap music, by the way, was used by Glenn Hoddle to warm up the England players yesterday, which doubtless helped Teddy Sheringham feel right at home.
My World Cup ratings: O'Herlihy 8, Giles 8, Beglin 7, Townsend 7, Quinn 8, McGee 7, Lynam 9, Hansen 9, Ginola 4, Motson 8, Pleat 9.