TV View: Anarchy at Anfield as Jordan Henderson sings solo and Mo Salah reigns supreme

Sky’s Martin Tyler may have been following from afar as he tried to figure out which words to watch

“From the coronation to the land of Coronation Street,” said Sky’s Rob Hawthorne, attempting to seamlessly link that big do in London with Manchester City’s home game against Leeds, before which a respectful if less than rousing rendition of God save the King was sung.

Not by Leeds’s Luke Ayling, though. It wasn’t a protest on his part, or anything, it’s just that he sang God save the Queen instead. Wait until he hears that Liz Truss is no longer prime minister.

But it was on Anfield later in the day that all eyes - and ears - were focused to see how the anthem business would go down, the Liverpool faithful having not been overly fond of the tune for many a year now.

The club hinted at its own discomfort over the request from the Premier League that the anthem be played before their game against Brentford with a statement on its website. When they mentioned the “historic events” that would be marked at Anfield on Saturday, they put the city’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest ahead of the coronation. Shade, that.


Any how, Sky commentator Bill Leslie took a deep breath before the Anfield DJ pressed play.

“It’ll get a mixed reception . . . at best,” he forecast.

He was kind of right: captain Jordan Henderson sang it from the Liverpool bench, which means he’ll probably be run out of town, as did the Union-Jack-hat-wearing visitors from Brentford, but the rest of the stadium emoted - ie booooooooooed - in quite a disdainful manner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold seemed, much like his defending this season, indecisive, half-mouthing “happy and glorious”, although that could have been a reference to Mo Salah. Andy Robertson stared at his feet and kept his trap shut, while Curtis Jones, the only other Briton in Liverpool’s starting line-up, didn’t know where to look. Darwin Nunez wore the expression of a hopelessly confused man, as he has often done of late in front of goal.

And then poor Bill didn’t know what to say when the entire stadium - apart from Jordan and the Union-Jack-hat-wearing visitors from Brentford - began singing “you can stick your coronation up yer arse”. (Celtic fans should sue for copyright infringement).

Strictly, Bill should have apologised at this point, that being the requirement from Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, when rude words are heard on telly or radio between 5.30am and 9.0pm. That 5.30am starting point has always been a curiosity: why is it okay to turn the air blue at 5.29am?

But at that point a “you can stick your royal family up your arse” banner popped up on the Kop, along with quite a few “Not my King” signs, as well as several Kenny Dalglish images with “King” inscribed under them, so Bill kind of gave up. By now, it was anarchy in (a northwestern corner of) the UK.

Jamie Carragher kept his whist, although that might have been a chuckle we heard from him when the camera picked out the “King Salah I love you more than my Mummy” sign. Whether this person literally loves Mo more than their Ma, or was making a puntastic Egyptian reference, we’ll never know.

If an off-duty Martin Tyler had been watching from home, he most probably said “note to self: never mention mummies in a Mo Salah context”.

Sky, after all, had publicly admonished him earlier in the week - “Martin has been reminded of the need for care with his wording” - after he had been “engulfed in a racism storm”. How? He likened a tackle by Spurs’ Son Heung-min on Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo to “martial arts”.

If, back in the day, he’d said “lovely hurling there from Niall Quinn”, some of us would have sent him a dozen red roses. World gone mad, like.

Mind you, that was in the ha’penny place next to him having to apologise last year for saying Ukraine’s goalkeeper would have to “soldier on” after he was injured in the World Cup qualifying play-off against Wales, because some folk on the tweet machine were outraged.

Tyler is 77, you’d imagine he’d have had enough of this crack, but when asked last week if he would follow Jeff Stelling and Graeme Souness into retirement, his reply was along the lines of “not on your Nelly”.

Alas, Nelly is an offensive term for a gay man, so he might have to apologise again. No matter, if he could stop saying “and it’s liiiiiiive”, then long may he reign behind his Sky mic.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times