Priceless and Pointless Pundits…
October 31, 2010 3 Comments
I’ve been having a few thoughts recently about football pundetry and its standard, and knowing how Patrick and I fancy ourselves as MOTD Master Men and Sky Sports Specialists, I thought it appropriate to get my feelings out.
I read an hilarious post recently on a BBC Blog from a fan disappointed in the low standard of pundetry from a particular ex-pro. I’ll let you guess who he’s on about…
“Second Rate Footballer = Second Rate Pundit
Second Rate Journalist = Second Rate Presenter
Second Rate Presenter + Second Rate Pundit = third rate show
Why haven’t you been sacked yet?”
I think about the times when I’ve disagreed with a pundit, or when I’ve thought TV has put on some absolute muppets to fill a whole on their overly expensive studio sofas. I grew up with Des Lynam anchoring MOTD. Alan Hansen to me was a legend: a man who understood the game, experienced great success within it, and wasn’t afraid to share his mind - “Yu tolk aboot poor defeeendin” was one of his most used quotes, and one my Dad and I often repeated. I still hold that view on Mr. Hansen. As a defender myself, I like how he sees the game. He sometimes talks nonsense, but don’t we all? (After all, “you don’t win nothin with kids” do you Alan?!).
The newer generation of football pundits seem far less aware of the game, and much more aware of saying something safe on TV. I’ve always respected the BBC for their choice in presenters; Hill, Lynam, Lineker and even Chiles for pure banter, their pundits too have been strong – even Lawro (“At the muuuuuument Gareh”)! But I sometimes find myself questionstioning the likes of; Garth Crooks (waffling), Mark Bright (over simplistic), Martin Keown (generally dull and hypocritical for talking about players’ discipline after his van Nistelrooy incident), Alan Shearer (for pure monotony), Emmanuel Adebayor (you what?!) and Steve Claridge (he’s got the perfect voice for mime) for example.
For me, Sky Sports have found a great pairing in Andy Gray and Jamie Redknapp. Now I know Gray is the head honcho of hyperbole, the secretary of sensationalism and the don of drama, but he makes for entertaining telly, and I quite like his use of the analysis screen – even though he talks a bit too much on it. I’ve not got a bad word to say about Jamie Redknapp. He’s simply class. Good comments, understands the game, seems to know every player personally, ridiculously good looking, great suits, appears on Wii commercials with his wife and Dad, and not afraid to disagree with Gray. (See Mascherano debate last year http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5S3a6L69zY).
Sky’s use of Graham Souness and random ex-pro’s (inc, Ruud Gullit and Michel Salgado last year!?) on Champs League nights often leaves a lot to be desired however. Similarly, ITV’s use of the now unemployed Robbie Earle was shocking, as well as continual faith in David Pleat and Jim Beglin (or whatever his name is) in the commentary box - bring back Big Ron, that’s what I say! To be honest, I’m not an Andy Towsend hater like many of my peers. I find his insight and comments usuall quite agreeable, and I think he does understand the game well.
Now look, this blog wasn’t meant to be a big bitching session on individuals, but you can see there are some poor pundit pretenders on the box these days.
Here’s my list of what makes a good TV pundit (not an armchair pundit you understand);
- Must be an ex-pro who’s played at the level they’re commenting on (don’t try and be an expert on the CL if you’ve never played in it).
- Someone who knows the game and has stood out as someone who reads play well. (ie. Sees a good pass, reads the game defensively, understands players’ mindsets).
- Someone who understands the way teams play, (ie. Arsenal; possession & Counter, Blackburn; dirty fouls and 90 yard long balls from the keeper, Chelsea; patience and power etc.)
- Someone held in high regard by other pros and ex-pros, (ie. Redknapp).
- Someone who isn’t afraid to say something controversial, (ie. Hansen).
- Someone who can explain tactics, systems, rules and strategies.
- Someone who doesn’t waffle mindlessly, (unlike Crooks, Bright, Pleat etc).
I’d love to hear what anyone else has to say on the matter. In the mean time, keep a look out for MOTD2 tonight and judge accordingly.
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