Pundits – A job for the boys?

A day doesn’t pass without somebody having an opinion on Football. Whether it be a recent match, an upcoming match or just a football related topic in the media that given day, but what about those who get paid to give their ‘expert’ views on the very same topics. I know of many people who have muttered the comment “I said that five minutes ago” while watching a match live on TV. Here I’m going to explore what it takes to be a pundit, what makes a good pundit and how relevant are their arguments that seem to get so much coverage.

Nowadays its extremely rare to see a football pundit who isn’t an ex professional player and/or manager. It seems all to easy for players who have recently hung up their boots to walk into a pundit role on one of the many stations that broadcast matches. My main question is, What qualifies them to obtain this role? In every other job, candidates need to submit a CV and await gruelling selection processes. To make it clear early in this post I’m not against ex pro’s becoming pundits, but the scrutiny and endless criticism of the comments made by these guys has provoked me to ask the question.

I think its incredibly unfair on journalists who compile reports on players, watch hour after hour of football, research far and wide on all aspects of the game that ex pro’s are labelled as given their expert view. Although they have played the game and have vast experience of the ins and outs doesn’t necessarily qualify them to give their views on specifics. There are many pundits who fail to get their point across clearly, who cannot pronounce players names, who’s views are so biased, blind and oblivious to the truth that it causes outrage within fans. There will be many that argue that a playing history is vital to providing insight and opinion on modern day football but surely if we had panels with a mixture of journalists and ex pro’s it would become a more rounded panel with different perspectives from opposite sides of the fence? Look at the show Question Time and the array of guests they welcome into their seats, I think football could learn a lot from this example simply by seeing the game from different angles than what fans are used to. Keep fans on their toes with the punditry and not just stick with the monotony that we’ve become used to.

I won’t name names in terms of poor pundits as everyone will have their own opinion, but I am going to talk a little about a few of the men who are fantastic in their analysis of the game. Lets look at two of the most passionate footballers in times gone by, plying their trade at either end of the M62. Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville. Now, when these two guys went into punditry I must admit that I had my reservations due to their tenacity and pure passion displayed whilst playing for the respective clubs. My personal reservations were blown out of the water however when it became clear very early on that they were at the top of the Punditry ladder. The depth of their analysis, tactical knowledge and sheer love of the game was apparent for all to see. Most impressive though, was their effortless ability to put previous allegiances to one side and be completely impartial. The straight talking manner of the pair was and still is refreshing to see. If only all pundits were as compelling for the viewer. They are not the only examples of top quality pundits, as all the men in the featured picture for this article are up there. Stan Collymore is another guy although we hear from him more than we see him. ¬†Nevertheless the content he covers deserve great praise. As I’m writing this I’ve realised all the pundits praised played for teams predominantly just pure coincidence I assure you.

All in all, I’d like to see more rounded pundit panels going forward but I accept that this is quite unlikely to happen for one reason or another. Lets just hope that any players thinking of the pundit route know what they’re getting themselves into.


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