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NICK HARRIS: TNT Sports made its first showing at the Emirates on Saturday with an eclectic range of talking points – as the broadcaster was forced to fill an additional 30 minutes due to a delay to kick-off

What a madcap 90 minutes at The Emirates. And that was just TNT Sports’ coverage between 11am and the supposed kick-off time before the re-branded BT Sport channel had another 30 minutes to fill due to the turnstile glitch.

Cue Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole being asked by Lynsey Hipgrave about their own experiences of delays. Cole recalled a long hiatus during a Tampa Bay Rowdies match due to a thunder storm. ‘Two and a half hours sitting down,’ he said. ‘I needed a shoe horn to get me out the changing room.’

Ferdinand cited a short delay at a West Ham match way back, due to a floodlight failure, then riffed for minutes on how important timing is to nutrition, specifically that you want to be kicking off precisely three hours after your pre-match meal.

To describe TNT’s debut ‘Early Kick Off’ show as eclectic would be an understatement. The infectiously enthusiastic Jules Breach opened proceedings reminding us that it’s ‘the time of year that only football fans understand’. 

Joined early by national treasure Ally McCoist, the pair first welcomed Martin Odegaard off his team bus and interviewed him, and did the same with Serge Aurier as Nottingham Forest disembarked.

TNT Sports' broadcasting line-up got their first outing at the Emirates on Saturday morning TNT Sports' broadcasting line-up got their first outing at the Emirates on Saturday morning

TNT Sports’ broadcasting line-up got their first outing at the Emirates on Saturday morning

TNT Sports pundit Ferdinand quizzed a fan from each club over a full English in a nearby cafe TNT Sports pundit Ferdinand quizzed a fan from each club over a full English in a nearby cafe

TNT Sports pundit Ferdinand quizzed a fan from each club over a full English in a nearby cafe

Ally McCoist first welcomed Martin Odegaard off the Arsenal team bus and interviewed him Ally McCoist first welcomed Martin Odegaard off the Arsenal team bus and interviewed him

Ally McCoist first welcomed Martin Odegaard off the Arsenal team bus and interviewed him

Aurier removed his headphones to chat but didn’t stop his music, which we could hear. Breach spotted this and asked him what it was. ‘Afrobeats,’ he said, and McCoist was quick to deadpan that he listened to the same prep tunes, too.

In the background, Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus walked in and out of shot. He was among the few people in the vicinity we didn’t hear from.

Ferdinand quizzed a fan from each club over a full English in a nearby cafe. Forest manager Steve Cooper gave one pre-match interview on the pitch and another in the tunnel.

‘It doesn’t get any tougher than this,’ he said, perhaps forgetting that four of Forest’s next five away games are at Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.

We heard from Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, and from £100m man Declan Rice, who told Ferdinand in a pre-recorded interview that, ‘I’m seeing the game in a completely different way’, after just four weeks working with Arteta. What does that say about his three managers while at West Ham?

Earlier we’d had a bit of politics as Ferdinand and Cole both agreed they would have jumped at the chance of a fat payday in Saudi Arabia had it come their way as players.

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Ferdinand suggested that he couldn¿t understand why Saudi Arabia got so much criticism Ferdinand suggested that he couldn¿t understand why Saudi Arabia got so much criticism

Ferdinand suggested that he couldn’t understand why Saudi Arabia got so much criticism

‘It’s an opportunity to make a lot of money,’ said Cole. Ferdinand reminded us that all countries have their faults and suggested that he couldn’t understand why Saudi Arabia got so much criticism.

This provoked a slew of messages on social media, mostly criticising him. The next most moaned about part of the coverage was the picture quality, variously described as ‘pixilated’, ‘blurry’ and ‘poor’. It was fine for me, but others also complained about the brightness of the TNT logo.

Missing yesterday of course was former BT Sport frontman Jake Humphrey, no longer on TV. I assumed he was at home preparing tweets for A-level results day on Thursday, or planning his next High Performance pod.

But no, fully two and half hours before TNT’s coverage started, Jake was on the microblogging site formerly known as Twitter to wish ‘big love and good luck’ to all his friends still involved. That was at 8.33am, or probably only three hours after he got up.

The show went ahead without him. Football broke out. Life goes on.

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