Barring the low hum of the television cameras, there is silence in the Match of the Day studio. Mark Chapman has gone incredibly pale, and is gripping the sides of his chair so hard that his knuckles have gone a translucent shade of white. Danny Murphy is trembling uncontrollably, swaying from side to side like a man who has been caught by a brutal sucker punch. The silence is suddenly punctured by the sound of a cameraman being sick on the floor, and the hushed sobbing of the chief production manager.
Something terrible has happened in the studio. Something traumatic, something heinous, something unforgettable and unforgivable in equal measure. That something is Chris Sutton, and his analysis of a fairly innocuous incident during Leicester vs. Burnley. He has said something so abominable, so diabolical, that the entire episode is going to have to be shelved indefinitely, and all recordings of it promptly burned.
We don't know if Chris Sutton is actually going to make a return to Match of the Day this weekend, but this is what we imagine it will look like if he does. Last week, Sutton proved himself to be the dark lord of football punditry, a human tempest of rage, indignation and acidic snark. His analysis was the equivalent of being gored by a raging bull, mauled by a Siberian tiger, or headbutted by a blue whale, which we imagine would be extremely painful on account of their vast heads. It was a horrific experience, but also sort of cathartic, in a way. Indeed, despite the fact that it could quite feasibly lead to several thousand Ofcom complaints, we'd quite like to see Sutton back on the telly come Saturday evening, and Sunday, too.
We'll go further, in fact, and call for Chris Sutton to be a permanent fixture on Match of the Day from now on. In a programme that was fast becoming a chummy meet up for fortysomething ex-footballers, Sutton injects a brutal immediacy into proceedings, and tears apart the status quo. "THAT WAS FUCKING CRIMINAL, CRIMINAL I TELL YOU" he will scream, after an exceedingly marginal offside call in a goalless draw at The Hawthorns. "I SUMMON MEPHISTOPHELES TO PUNISH THEE, LINESMAN," he'll add, before disappearing in a swirling cloud of flame and smoke.