Football pundits: a less than magnificent seven

Thanks to the broadcasters, a legion of ex-footballer pundits are actually paid real money to torture the minds of unfortunate viewers. As the new season approaches, remind yourself of their respective talents, and be afraid. This is England’s very own Magnificent Seven.

Alan Hansen
Profile: scar-faced misery addict. Penchant for satin shirts popularised in 1980’s wine bars.
Likely to say: “right now, these spirits are all available with 50% off at Morrisons…” oh, his other gig? How about, “pace, power… pace, power… defenders hate pace, he’s got in in abundance.”
Insight: proposes a unique theory that suggests defenders hate playing against pace. In Hansen’s mind this discovery is more significant than any bullshit that Einstein came up with.

Mark Lawrenson
Profile: the worst kind of pub humour; prone to dreadful puns and astonishing displays of arrogance.
Likely to say: “tell you what, good substitution, eh?” then sprawl out on the MOTD sofa looking incredibly pleased with himself, as if he’s just lifted the collective scales from the nation’s eyes. That’s not analysis, Mark, that’s the man in the pub who tries to start a conversation with me when I’m watching a game. The man I want to ignore, but make the mistake of acknowledging thus inviting a stream of infuriatingly banal observations. The thing is, Lawrenson isn’t stupid; he can do so much better. He’s just not trying, at all.
Insight: belittled Lee Dixon for daring to know who Tomas Hamsik was. This was during a world cup.

Jamie Redknapp
Profile: sartorial guru for a new generation of estate agents; expert spotter of ‘top top’ players, and masterful use of metaphorical language.
Likely to say: “he’s literally on fire.”
Insight: plenty, just check out this extract from his fledgling career as a journalist, interviewing cousin Frank for his own (now defunct) magazine, “As I sat by the window in Scalini, our family’s favourite restaurant, Frank strolled in looking every inch the footballing icon he is…As Frank tucks into his favourite grilled chicken and penne arrabiata, I’m eager to delve deeper into his career…It hasn’t always been plain sailing for Frank and he has shown real guts and determination to get where he is today.”
Each sentence leaves you literally begging for more.

Alan Shearer
Profile: successful national team striker turned failed manager turned universally derided pundit. It’s been an unfortunate trajectory of late.
Likely to say: on camera, “no one knows much about him”, off camera, “Well, what do you know about him… yeah, well, how should I know he played for France. I’m not paid to sit around watching France. Oh, fuck off.”
Insight: aside from his managerial record, and comments about French internationals, I think this piece by Twisted Blood is as good appraisal of Shearer’s mind as you will find.

Nicky Butt
Profile: fuck knows. Seriously, do they even bother screen testing anymore?
Likely to say: [after prolonged silence watching a replay of someone taking a shot] “that’s a good hit, that.”
Insight: see ‘likely to say’.

Mark Bright
Profile: least insightful comments ever heard on TV or radio.
Likely to say: “what’s he’s done there, he’s got the ball, he’s kicked it, he’s scored a goal.”
Insight:  thinks Alan Shearer should manage the GB Olympic team, which he . This man is paid to talk about football.

Ian Wright
Profile: England’s biggest flag follower, representing the views of the common man; paid to spout hyperbole in The Sun.
Likely to write: “the boys can do it!” and “sort it out!”
Yeah, but what would he say? Sadly, he’s not on TV anymore, but if he was, he might blub something like: “I don’t know what it is about little people like that, I just love ‘em, man.” Confused by the reference to ‘little people’? Oh, you’d forgotten about that?
Insight: last summer suggested “Jermain Defoe is as good as David Villa, and he’s getting better.” Of course he is, Ian, of course he is [makes crazy person gesture and slowly moves away].

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2 Responses to Football pundits: a less than magnificent seven

  1. Hal says:

    Hey Regista, I’ve been reading the blog and am lovin’ it. I thought the best way of blowing some sunshine up that dark and inhospitable void was by submitting a humble contribution in the form of a comment!
    I, too, have long lamented the low level of football punditry, especially when contrasted with Cricket commentary. If we take MOTD as our case in point: here we have a regular program watched by some 4.34 million people (according to BARB: The Broadcasting Audience Research Board); and most probably the same 4.34 million week in, week out; and yet we‘re still repeatedly subjected to the same ball numbingly simple analysis. Surely, we are missing the opportunity to really educate the people about the subtleties and intricacies of the great game; to promote discourse about tactical systems, to examine the merits various styles of play and even training methods. I shall give an example of what I think I’m missing: I’ve heard that Barca, everyone’s favourite football fantasy, actually achieve their seemingly free form passing game though quite a complicated tactical model that has something to do with dividing the pitch up into eight-or-so sections and then making sure that players marshal these sections throughout the game. Now, it is very conceivable that I have been misinformed by one of the jaded ageing humans that I watch football with, or even, that I have just got the wrong end of a stick and run with it until my little legs can run no more. However, if there is something to this then surely MOTD, or one of its offshoots, is where enlightenment on the matter ought shine out.
    The main point I wanted to put to you relates to this lack of educational analysis and also the very topical issue of transfers.
    It strikes me that English football is in the tight, insensitive grip of a lazy Capitalist/Materialist logic: the only solution to any problem is to spend our way out of it. A team isn’t performing on the pitch: buy new personnel, freshen up the squad. A club isn’t winning trophies: buy in a new manager. This is the predominant solution I hear voiced on MOTD: endless variations of ‘they’re missing one or two players’ or ‘its an area we’re looking to strengthen’. So universal and unquestioned is disposable Materialism, in our society, that we appear to have lost all imagination when it comes to problem solving: we’ll just buy in the solution. Now, I don’t mean to imply the binary opposite: that a club never ought buy new players; or managers; or freshen up the squad, but, is their not a nice fuzzy George Clooney-esque shade of grey in between?
    I dream of a wonderful happy place where dogs and cats walk hand in hand; where profit no longer precedes happiness; where clubs put real emphasis on academies, including a real responsibility to school young players; where English players relish going abroad to experience new cultures and learn their languages; where technique and skill are equal to pace and power; and where finally, and most controversially, football is played in a culture of honesty and honor.

    • Michael says:

      Wow, Hal, there’s a lot to digest in that. Definitely one of the longest comments ever on Regista, so well done there. On transfers, it wouldn’t be so bad if, every once in a while, the pundits had done five minutes homework before going on. I’m not just talking about Shearer, I mean it was if Sergio Aguero had never existed before he pulled on a Manchester City shirt. I think I will just say that it’s great that you have a dream. As a man with a fuzzy shade of grey (I prefer the term ‘salt and pepper’), I’m with you there too, Hal.

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