It has almost become a foreseeable certainty for high profile footballers to cling onto their careers through delivering their expertise as televised pundits. Many stars who have endured glittering careers, such as Gary Neville, Thierry Henry and Steven Gerrard, are now relied upon to analyse games and offer a unique insight into the footballing world. But are audiences benefitting from the knowledge of past players or simply assuming their analytical skills mirror their on-pitch talents?
Undoubtedly, the most informative and entertaining football show on television is Sky Sport’s Monday Night Football
Undoubtedly, the most informative and entertaining football show on television is Sky Sport’s Monday Night Football, which sees ex-Manchester United right back Gary Neville exchange witty jabs and dissect tactics with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. Aside from the evolving bromance between the two, their direct and accurate criticism has won them deserved respect and dramatically enhanced viewing figures. MNF balances analytical excellence with entertaining humour as the duo illustrate an on-screen charisma that is unrivalled in the world of punditry. Neville is one of the few pundits to illustrate his opinions with passion and has built a reputably abrupt stance towards footballing topics. Neville sets the bar with a correct approach towards punditry, and is an example to the drab personalities who give simplistic comments on a continuous basis.
the majority are simply recognisable faces describing what we’ve just witnessed with repetitive clichés
The BT Sport pundit team spoil us week-to-week with a remarkably lacklustre panel consisting of David James, Owen Hargreaves and Steve McManaman. And if that wasn’t enough, we are treated to the wisdom of Michael Owen in commentary whose utterances such as “when they don’t score they hardly ever win” has left many viewers confused as to why he’s still in the job. Owen is a perfect example of how footballers can ease into a punditry job off the back of a fantastic career, regardless of their on-screen qualities. Thierry Henry has also decorated the Sky Sports panel with his suave mannerisms but in regards to his punditry, he offers nothing new to what the audience already knows and is as entertaining to watch as a run-of-the-mill 0-0 draw. Televised matches are littered with football ‘experts’ and proves how there is no gateway for other football intellectuals to express their views on screen. I’ve become tired of hearing the views of retired footballers who are desperate to prolong their successful past as a pundit or commentator. Yes, they give an exclusive scope on football through experience and knowledge, but the majority are simply recognisable faces describing what we’ve just witnessed with repetitive clichés.
Fans should have a bigger imprint on mainstream television, as they bring a breath of fresh air compared to the same old personalities
However, my boredom has broadened my interest in fan channels and journalistic opinions which are useful to gain a wider perspective of footballing topics. Arsenal Fan TV has notoriously been recognised as a hilarious source of alternative media, whereby passionate fans debate over club performances and mainly…Wenger. A vision into the mind-set of fans is a form of football analysis that is relatable as well as entertaining and revealing. The monopoly of the televised media industry has created a barrier whereby you need to have played for a Premier League club to get your voice heard. Fans should have a bigger imprint on mainstream television, as they bring a breath of fresh air compared to the same old personalities. Additionally, shows such as Sunday Supplement give journalists the opportunity to express their views on footballing topics on-screen. Journalists can arguably be perceived as fans that have excelled to a level where they have their voices heard, and Sunday Supplement allows them to contribute their opinions nakedly, and not in an article tarnished by bias.
Different faces with different opinions are needed more often on our screens to emphasise that you don’t have to be a world class footballer to have a valued opinion. It shouldn’t be ignored that many pundits present us with valuable information that improves our understanding of the game week after week, but with the abundance of uncharismatic ex-footballers that linger on our screens, it’s necessary to say televised punditry needs a tactical change.