Manchester United's TV channel spends a lot of time in restaurants but its output would have been tastier if handshakegate had been conducted Marx Brothers-style
Did you know Manchester United has its own official cabernet sauvignon? It's a Chilean number called Casillero del Diablo. They advertise it between the programmes on MUTV, the club's TV channel. Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, and Wayne Rooney sit around exchanging anxious looks as they discuss the new "devil" the boss is bringing to Old Trafford, which turns out to be the wine.
I doubt Sir Alex drinks it himself, as it is sold in supermarkets for £5.99, and legend has it the gaffer's taste runs to something a little ritzier. "Let them drink Chilean plonk," I imagine him cackling, as he pours himself another glass of the Chateau Margaux 95, not, I suspect, the kind of image they were hoping for when they set up MUTV.
They probably thought the station might help fans feel part of the club, but actually it emphasises the divide between the players and the poor bloody infantry who pay to watch them. A lot of time is spent in smart restaurants – certainly more than the man on the Collyhurst omnibus would expect to spend – as the stars share their thoughts over green salads and soft drinks.
A programme called Dining With Rio and Ryan, for instance, begins with a lingering shot of the exterior of Rosso Restaurant and Bar, while inside Giggs and Ferdinand are answering searching questions like, "What's some of the funny stories you do on people in dressing rooms?" It's not Newsnight.
Rio reveals that much dressing-room hilarity centres on the always reliable comedy topic of "dodgy gear" and takes us back to the time "two of the lads had dodgy trousers on". And, guess what? "They cut all his trousers up, cut up all his gear and that. He was devastated." "They cut up his T-shirts as well," added Giggsy.
Another programme, interviewing the Da Silva twins, is shot in a Brazilian restaurant, Bem Brasil. What makes all this restaurant action particularly bogus is that it is well known – confirmed by Danny Welbeck in a Guardian interview on Saturday – that when footballers dine out, they mostly go route one and eat in Nando's.
Granted, I am not the target market for MUTV – I am going out on a limb here, and guessing that would be Manchester United fans – but I took out a subscription last week to keep up to date with the official line on handshakegate. Those are the kind of lengths to which we diligent correspondents on the front line are prepared to go, to keep on top of a breaking story like this.
Disappointingly, the line was that Luis Súarez had let his team down, his manager down, and well, you know the rest, by refusing Evra's proffered hand, which is more or less what the glorious leader had said in his post-match interview. MUTV didn't even bother taking us to a fine Manchester tapas bar to reveal it.
You could tell how important the handshake story was by the fact that Match of the Day, to whom Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish declined to share his thoughts on the topic, borrowed an interview from Sky's Geoff Shreeves, who had bearded Dalglish after Saturday's final whistle.
Even for Shreeves, a man who has seen more hair-raising action in the tunnel than Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption, quizzing King Kenny shortly after a defeat against United, on a matter of pre-match etiquette, must qualify for one of those hazard payments war correspondents get. Predictably, Kenny told Geoff he was "bang out of order" and left him standing, rather as Súarez did to Evra, a not entirely unheard-of denouement to one of Shreeves's difficult encounters.
My view is that humour could have been used to take the heat out of the Súarez-Evra meeting. The problem with Kenny and Sir Alex is they are too fixated on football matters to have built up a decent knowledge of Marx Brothers films. I would like to have referred them to the one where each time one of the brothers holds out his hand for a handshake, another puts his leg in it. Trust me, done quickly in a vaudeville style, it's very funny.
Imagine if, instead of his peevish refusal, Luis had put his leg in Patrice's hand, and then Rio had turned the tables and put his leg in Luis's hand, and they had repeated the routine to fill five of those tense pre-match minutes. Laughter would ensue, all enmity would be forgotten, and in no time at all the boys would be breaking bread together in swish restaurants, exchanging hilarious "dodgy gear" anecdotes, and, who knows, maybe ending the evening by amusingly cutting up each other's clothes.
Finally, more cliche watch. "Who knows how important that goal may turn out to be at the end of the season?" is the obligatory commentary line on goals, particularly late ones, in relegation battles, and with a third of the Premier League season to go, we are going to hear a lot more of it.
On MOTD on Saturday, it was deployed as early as the 43rd minute when Gary Caldwell scored for Wigan. But what about the Bolton equaliser that followed? And then Wigan's winner? Who knows how important they were? None of us, really. We're probably as well waiting till nearer the end of the season.