We don't need pundits when there's so much action

I'm loving all the European matches, here, there and everywhere, even if they come so thick and fast it becomes hard to work out where here and there is. You can't tell by the adverts around the grounds. If they are all in English, it doesn't necessarily mean we are in England or Scotland. More likely somewhere out east, where advertising space is cheap so English companies buy it all up to send exciting messages back home.

Such as "Flaming grilling just tastes better". That was on a hoarding in Sofia for the Newcastle game. At first I couldn't work it out. The awful Jonathan Pearce had already told us twice that the Sofia team were known locally as "soup eaters", so was this a dig at their team? Or could it be an advert for a crematorium? Bobby Robson, in his sleek, black, double-breasted suit and black tie, did look as if he were dressed for a funeral. Eventually, when there was a throw-in near the advert, we got a close-up and I could see a little logo saying "Burger King". Ugh. Why did I waste time trying to make sense of it?

The architecture of the grounds can also be confusing. In Italia 90, you could tell it was Italy by the brilliance of the stadia design. Now our grounds are just as stunning as Italy's.

The grass, that's often a clue. They may have class teams in Italy, but there's a lot of crap turf. Perhaps it's to do with their architecture being too stunning, too grandiose, shutting out nature, reducing light and rain. Whatever happens in Europe, I bet we'll win the award for best pitch.

Perhaps the main effect, the first casualty, of these two weeks of Euro overkill will be the death of TV comment and analysis. At least in this house, where I am sitting glued to the box. I have now decided I want to be in the stadia not the studio.

With so many matches whizzing around the planet, coming at us from all angles, out of all sorts and sizes of boxes, the normal fan hasn't got time for peripheral stuff.

When Sky was on its own, with Super Sunday, Fab Monday, Trific Tuesday or whatever, I never tuned in at three for a four o'clock kick-off. What a nonsense: what can they possibly have to chunter on about for a whole hour? But I was usually there at least 15 minutes before, ready and waiting, with my coffee in hand, selection of fruit lined up, whisky for half-time, biscuit for afters, plus a glass of wine in case of extra time. I wanted to see the teams and the line-up, watch the phizogs as the players trooped on to the pitch, then have a quick dash to the lav during the last commercial.

But now, dear God, there aren't enough hours in the day to fit in all the rubbish, all the padding, when there's so much good stuff to watch, real live matches, often at the same time, or at overlapping times. So what I do now is switch on exactly at kick-off. Then at half-time and full-time, I don't wait to hear their boring views, potty analysis or replays that have already been replayed. I either take a break, lie down in a dark room and recover from all that eating and drinking, I mean avid watching, or I switch to another live match.

I suspect more and more fans are doing this. Comment is cheap, action is sacred, as C P Scott should have said. We now have so much live, wonderful action that we have no time or inclination to take in comment, no hunger or need for punditry.

I did tune in for Des Lynam's first appearance on ITV, and switched off at once. He looked nervous, a new boy unsure of his surroundings, despite his smartly pre-scripted remarks.

Apart from making studio comment obsolete, the mass of live matches has also ruined the point of programmes that relied on round-ups of the week's action. There's little point now in tuning in to the BBC's Football Focus when the action they have to show is old action from matches we have already seen.

I did watch last Saturday and practically fell asleep when the normally amusing Gary Richardson went on a walk with the Wimbledon manager, Egil Olsen. The walk seemed to last weeks. I don't think I've ever seen such padding.

Then it was back to the studio and Ray Stubbs, yawn, yawn. My number one favourite hate in football is still Jonathan Pearce. I do find myself standing up and shouting when he starts his chauvinistic ranting. Stubbs has the opposite effect. Snoring, it's called. He is so soporific, so vacuous, with his big, empty face, his big, empty smile, his big, empty, banal links. I probably won't tune in to Football Focus again, except in the hope that Mark Lawrenson, who is beginning to look well pissed off with Ray, will grab him by the Horlicks.

People have been predicting that the main result of too much televised football will be falling gates. Recently some experts have seen signs at places such as Villa. A meaningless sign, as they've always had a fickle crowd. The top clubs, the traditionally well-supported clubs, are as popular as ever. Just look at Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Sunderland.

I predict that the main effect of too much football on television will not be on football but on television. First, a lot of the studio stuff will become redundant. Then it will be a television channel that goes to the wall, not one of our well-known clubs, which has been the accepted wisdom so far.

It's the TV companies, not the football clubs, who are fighting each other for our custom. While they are shrieking and hollering about their On Digital, Off Message nonsense, pay-per-groan deals, interaction bollocks, cable crap, on which they are spending trillions and which will end with one of them going bankrupt, we can just sit back and watch a wealth of European football. Enjoy.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.