talkSPORT commentator Clive Tyldesley reveals his meticulous preparation for games ahead of Norwich vs Man City clash

14 Sep

After covering a thoroughly entertaining clash between England and Kosovo on Tuesday night, it’s back to the Premier League for legendary commentator Clive Tyldesley this weekend.

Next up, Tyldesley will be commentating on Manchester City’s trip to Norwich on Saturday for talkSPORT (kick-off 5:30pm) – the third of our three live Premier League commentaries on GameDay.

Tyldesley (left) will commentate regularly for talkSPORT this season

There will be rigorous preparations going into the game for the Citizens and the Canaries, but also from Tyldesley as he looks to have every angle covered.

But what does he do to prepare for such fixtures, especially when he has more than one commentary a week and how does he make the transition from TV to radio? sat down with Tyldesley to delve into the secrets behind his success and his meticulous preparations ahead of every match.

How does radio commentary differ from TV commentary?

“One of the things I tell people who have asked for my advice is that you have to take a step back from things and ask yourself what it is. What do we do?

“To be a radio commentator is different from a television commentator.

“It’s different in terms of how you serve your audience. No matter what business you’re in, particularly in a communications business, I think the most important thing is to identify your audience.

“The audience for a talkSPORT radio commentary are likely to be fairly committed football fans.

“You’re probably not going to go out of your way to listen to talkSPORT unless you’ve got some kind of commitment to sport and to football.

“Consequently, you are talking to a more informed audience than you might be if you’re broadcasting as I was on Tuesday night to six-and-a-half million television viewers at the peak time of the England v Kosovo game.

“There you’ve got to be more inclusive, there you are trying to maybe introduce not just Kosovo players but maybe one or two of the England players’ background to an audience which knows less at the starting point.

“Here, looking forward to Saturday, I’m talking to an audience who can’t see the game and an audience who probably do know their football. The research is geared to that.

“Biographical information on anybody who has played for Manchester City over the last two years is probably unnecessary. What is more important for instance is the fact that City have got some problems in central defence.

“It was cleared with Argentina that Nicolas Otamendi would only play one international and then come back early. Their second international was in the early hours of Wednesday morning, so City have done a deal with Argentina to get Otamendi early.

“That changes everything and that’s probably all you need to know about Otamendi going into this game.

“I don’t need to mention that Otamendi has played at World Cups, most talkSPORT listeners would know that.

“I start to think about who will be listening on what they will need to know.”

All eyes will be on Otamendi following Aymeric Laporte’s injury
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What tips have you been given over the years?

“I took over in 1998 from a great commentator, the late Brian Moore.

“When we had a farewell function to wish Brian a happy retirement, I sat next to him at this table with about 20 people from ITV and we demolished most of a couple of bottles of red wine.

“And at about 1 o’clock in the morning he said to me that there were only two things that I had to remember – and I thought to myself ‘here I am sat next to the great man himself, who’s about to give me the secret to commentary and I’ve had too much to drink and not going to be able to remember!’

“He said the two things are to be warm enough and to be on time.


Here's what is coming up this weekend..

  • Derby vs Cardiff (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Liverpool vs Newcastle (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Fulham vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Norwich vs Man City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barnsley vs Leeds (Sunday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT

“So I thought that there was surely more to it than this but six months later after he retired I saw him and he asked me if I remembered what I told him that night and I said I did – even though I’d had far too much to drink!

“He then said to me: ‘That was the biggest vote of confidence that I can give you. I think that you’re good enough and capable enough and you’re dedicated enough and thorough enough to go on and take my job. But you won’t be any good if you’re late or cold.’

“Even though it sounded like the most basic of advice, it was actually a vote of confidence in the ability to do the job but just remember- take the stress off yourself.

“Get there four or five hours before kick-off. Does it look like cold night? Maybe not but take an extra coat – you don’t necessarily have to wear it.

How much preparation do you do for a game? 

“Quite simply, enough. I’m of a generation where I can actually remember a time before the internet.

“I am IT literate, but I am also a creature of habit so I stay with the same way that I’ve known for years.

“You’ve got to know more than anyone else who’s sitting and watching that game but the key to prep and therefore how you prep is how you use it.

“You could prep for 15 days straight for a game and have the British Library full of information about a game but if you start to drown the list for the viewer with that information when it’s not relevant, then you’re just showing off. You’ll then start to bore them very quickly and annoy them.

“The key to journalism is gathering all the information and telling the story and telling the story so people can understand it and are enlightened in the process.

“Any information that we as commentators use during the course of a radio or television commentary should enlighten. We should probably use about 10 per cent of our information.

Has preparation got easier or more difficult over the years? 

“It’s easier to do the prep and gain information because of the world wide web, although it can be difficult to find the accuracy of the information you’re looking for.

“Where it’s got more difficult conversely is the way the relationship between football and the media has worsened.

“There’s less trust as there tends to be everywhere in the world and so probably around twenty years ago I could maybe count on 12, 15, two dozen managers to maybe trust me with their team information up to 24 hours before a game. Now we’re talking about two or three.

“I haven’t necessarily got the established friendship that I’ve got with Gareth Southgate for instance. I’m very fortunate in that sense.

“We’ve seen with Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa that team information is now viewed as top secret and actually if you get any team news from a manager then I’m almost too frightened to have it.

“I inherited a great relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson from Brian Moore and Sir Alex would sometimes he’d tell me things on the mornings of Champions League games.

“I’d then arrive at Old Trafford at around 4 o’clock and someone would say to me ‘have you heard Keano [Roy Keane] is not playing?’ – and I’d just think that he was telling me that in confidence and that I’d be the only person that knew so I was hoping he’d think that I wouldn’t have told anyone.

Tyldesley would sometimes hear Manchester United team news from Sir Alex Ferguson before others would

What’s your preparation been like going into the Norwich vs Manchester City game? 

“Because we’re following an international week, most of my research has been about who’s been playing for who since we last saw them.

“In preparation for the England match I had a look at some of Harry Kane’s goalscoring stats and I found the only two players in consecutive internationals and one of them scored in successive nights in Vienna and Prague.

“But I didn’t use it on the night because Harry didn’t score a hat-trick. If he did then I would have found a way to reference that moment.

Tyldesley had a fascinating stat about Kane at the ready but was unable to use it
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“The relevance going into this game is that Norwich have done really well in their two home games – they gave Chelsea a real game and beat Newcastle.

“But I’d be a little bit concerned with how they lost at West Ham – they lost 2-0 and their goalkeeper was their best player – and they went out of the EFL Cup to Crawley Town with Daniel Farke’s shadow squad.

“Given that they are facing the reigning champions who are obviously in great form then my angle on Norwich will be that I’m a little fearful for them.

“For Manchester City, they’ve done very little wrong other than drop a couple of points against Spurs in a game they dominated.

“I’ll be interested to see what Liverpool do at lunchtime [against Newcastle] – you would assume that Liverpool will win.

Tyldesley believes the title race is already taking shape between Manchester City and Liverpool
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“My angle going into the game is that it feels like April already. We are back into that routine we were in during the spring when one of them played first and the other one was playing catch-up.

“And even though out of respect for the other Premier League clubs, both Liverpool and Manchester City will be saying all the right things – that five or six teams can win the title – but they’re already eyeing each other up.

“They won’t admit to it, but if Liverpool slip up at lunchtime then Manchester City will go into the Norwich game with a huge boost.”

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT. We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – with Norwich vs Manchester City among our games this weekend.

Clive Tyldesley on the 1999 Champions League final that made his career, drinking with Liverpool players and Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment

16 Aug

It sounds like such a cliché to say Clive Tyldesley has seen everything, but with football he really has.

The legendary commentator has seen incredible players live, great Champions League finals, World Cup finals and even one of the game’s greats in Zinedine Zidane end his career in disgrace (well, almost).

Tyldesley (left) commentated on Tottenham’s 2019/20 Premier League opener against Aston Villa and will be heard regularly on talkSPORT this season

Tyldesley has recently joined talkSPORT’s excellent commentary team this season.

So took the opportunity to ask the man about his greatest ever football moments and unsurprisingly there were plenty of fascinating tales to tell.

My Greatest: Player(s) – George Best and Zinedine Zidane

How do you compare the greatest goalkeeper with the greatest striker? It’s impossible to answer.

I think there’s a strong case to say that the most influential player in the Manchester United treble team was Peter Schmeichel. But how can you equate his contributions with the likes of Roy Keane and David Beckham or Dwight Yorke? It’s difficult question to answer.

So in terms of the player who’s given me the most pleasure in my life I’ll give you two answers. I’m old enough to have seen George Best play.

I was a Manchester United fan as a boy so he and Denis Law were my heroes and even though the game is very different today, I think Best is the player who would have adapted his game the best to the modern game more than anyone else.

8. George Best - Right Winger - Northern Ireland
Tyldesley believes George Best would have found a way to play in any era of football

But in more recent times I think the greatest football memories I’ve had have come from Zinedine Zidane and specifically that goal I was privileged to commentate on at Hampden Park in the 2002 Champions League final – it was his wrong foot!

I commentated on the 2006 World Cup final but I didn’t see what he did live and it was a bad moment in my commentary career because he’d been sent off for something that I hadn’t seen.

We saw the replays 30 seconds later but I didn’t see my modern football hero do the worst thing of his life in the flesh.

Tyldesley saw the good and bad side of Zinedine Zidane

My Greatest: Goal – Carlos Alberto in the 1970 World Cup final

Brazil’s fourth goal in the 1970 World Cup final might be the greatest goal ever scored and maybe that was the greatest ever performance of any team, given it was a World Cup final.

My Greatest: Team – Liverpool in the late 70s and early 80s

During my early broadcast career I spent ten years working in Liverpool for a radio station beginning in 1977 and I was the same age as the players of that Liverpool team in the 70s and 80s and many of them remain good friends to this day.

It was a different relationship between media and footballers in those days. I socialised with them as much as I worked with them.

I knew their families, I played golf with them and went drinking with them. I got a real inside track view of the spirit they shared between them and share to this day.

One of the biggest changes in football is that it’s become more cosmopolitan. The players stay at the clubs for less time and so the fellowship you get in a dressing room lasts for less time than they did in the late 70s and early 80s. Teams were unchanged season after season after season.

That Liverpool team became Champions of Europe four times between 1977 and 1984

The bond between those players, the team bond and the essence of the team over the individual – and there were some truly great players in those sides – was so powerful and so impressive, especially when you look at their record during the late 70s and early 80s and how they dominated at home and abroad. They are the greatest club team I’ve ever seen.

You could name a team that could beat them but the team couldn’t beat them five times out of five because Liverpool found a way to win games.

The essence of that team’s spirit and mentality would have given them an ability to find a way to beat any team.

Red rule

Between 1976 and 1990, Liverpool won...

League titles x10

European Cups x4

FA Cups x2

League Cups x4

UEFA Cups x1

My Greatest: Atmosphere – Celtic Park

I’ve been in atmospheres in places like Turkey, which are mind-blowing, a bit crazy and threatening.

In terms of a sheer size and depth of a throaty roar that greets a team onto the field or that time when a team needs the support like when winning a corner, it would be very very close between Anfield and Celtic Park on Champions League nights.

My visits to Parkhead have been far fewer and further between and my son will hate me because he’s a huge Red man, but if pushed I’d have to go for Celtic Park on a Champions League night.

There’s something particularly special about Celtic Park’s atmosphere on a Champions League night
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My Greatest: Manager – Sir Alex Ferguson

Like the greatest player question, how would Jose Mourinho fare if he was put in charge of Bishop’s Stortford? You should really judge a manager by their added value that he/she gives to the team they are with but we can’t really equate so consequently we have to look at achievement.

What I would say about Sir Alex Ferguson is that he was adaptable. There is an image of him which usually relates to the infamous hairdryer and I’ve had two of probably the biggest rollockings of my life from him! It was almost like an initiation.

But he changed. The Alex that took over in 1986 to the Alex that managed in the 21st century was a different style of manager. Parenting has changed, our whole management of people has changed in business, in family environment and sporting environments and Alex moved with that.

His longevity was due to his ability to move with the times and he managed different players in different ways over the course of his career and he did that over three or four Manchester United teams, all with huge levels of success during that period.

The former Manchester United boss is viewed as the game’s greatest ever manager by many

I got very close to Bill Shankly as a person, I got close to Brian Clough as a person and that has been a privilege to spend valuable time with truly great men who were inspirational in different ways but I think if you tried to have an overview of someone who managed in the 80s and in the 21st century and how they remained successful during that period then you’d have to look at Sir Alex Ferguson.

My Greatest: Kit – Manchester City at the Community Shield

I like the retro feel at the moment – I loved the kit Manchester City wore at the Community Shield.

I’m trying not to be a grumpy old man and we’ve got four kids in their 20s in and around the house who keep me up with the times but you’re at your most impressionable when in your late teens and early 20s.

I grew up as a United fan but I don’t really have a team now, so having seen the City kit again, that sky blue kit with the white circular neck looked really cool. Shame they’re not wearing it all season.

Manchester City’s Community Shield kit was a real throwback
Getty Images - Getty

My Greatest: Game(s) – Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United 1999 AND Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle 1996

I’m a professional as much as I am a fan and the most important game for me professionally was the 1999 Champions League final. It was the end of my first season replacing the late, great Brian Moore at ITV.

The audience was massive – 20million+ people and the finish was so dramatic that had I messed up any of that I wouldn’t be sat here doing this interview.

That was my career in those three minutes.

I think it’s a matter of opinion whether a commentator did a good job or not but I got all the names right , I shouted the right names at the right moment, I got the final score right and came out of it probably with my reputation enhanced. It was not a great game of football but it was the most important in my broadcast career.

Manchester United’s dramatic win over Bayern Munich was a huge moment in Tyldesley’s career

But maybe the greatest game I’ve ever seen was at Anfield for the first Liverpool v Newcastle 4-3 game, and I was commentating on that.

In terms of how unlikely and how many changes of mood and direction that game took and the atmosphere in which it was played and the significance of it, it was the best.

I can only answer from a personal point of view and but I was privileged to witness that thrill ride of a match.