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.
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?
talkSPORT.com sat down with Tyldesley to delve into the secrets behind his success and his meticulous preparations ahead of every match.
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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.”
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
“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.
“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.