The Curse of the Football Pundit

While watching the World Cup coverage from sunny Brazil this summer on ITV and The BBC, I’ve realized a former footballer doesn’t always make quite the same impression when trying his luck at a bit of punditry. It came to my attention that for every good commentator or football pundit expressing their views on the beautiful game, you can usually find a bad one sitting next to them in the commentary box.

Robbie Savage – BBC

The former Derby loud-mouth didn’t get off to the best of starts, as his appearance at the tournament nearly wasn’t due to a mix up with his wife’s passport, a schoolboy error!

It’s easily done, especially when you could pass for your wife’s twin! To be honest, I was absolutely gutted for him, that old Roberta as he should be known as now, actually found his passport.

Savage’s views are more of a criticism to each team he has the luxury of commentating on. He was given a game between the United States and Ghana, the late kick off of the day; whether The BBC had a logical thought to keep Savage back so everyone can go to bed remains to be seen.

The Americans fielded their ‘prolific’ striker in Jozy Altidore, bearing in mind the Sunderland man only registered one goal in the Premier League this season; Savage seemed to think he was the real deal.

I eventually lost count of the amount of times praise was heaped on Altidore’s shoulders, expressing his “pace down the wing, his strength and power.” It all got too much though when Altidore went off injured before half-time, and you could sense Roberta was gutted his main talking point left the field. If The BBC did adverts, I’m sure a violin would have been involved in the proceedings.

Lee Dixon – ITV

I can only imagine The BBC were then overjoyed to hear the news that Lee Dixon jumped ship to ITV for the tournament, his style is saying it how it is. He certainly achieved that by commenting on Dirk Kuyt’s exhausted drop to the floor, you’d think it could possibly be, “CRAMP!” screamed Dixon. Like a school child shouting any word that comes to mind in a classroom.

Dixon’s expert view on Netherland’s midfielder Arjen Robben was “Nine times out of ten he will go on his left foot, the other one he will go on his right.” Really Lee!? A valid point considering Robben is predominantly a left footed player; nevertheless I can’t say I’ve ever seen a player with more than two feet.

Phil Neville – BBC

In a new era of commentators coming through, former Premier League stalwarts Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have been the face of Sky Sports, covering all the major talking points in the Premier and Champions League with ease and precision. Regrettably for Gary’s younger brother Phil, his co-commentary debut got off to an absolute shocker.

If England’s defeat to Italy wasn’t bad enough, it was topped off by Phil Neville’s robotic-like punditry style, which received a number of complaints. 445 to be precise! I feel a bit sorry for Jeremy Vine who probably had a very busy afternoon on Points of View the next day.

Phil’s ‘boring bandwagon’ was in full swing, and a number of fans took to Twitter to vent their frustrations, including South Warwickshire Police, who posted on their Twitter page, “At least we know Phil Neville won’t stir the crowds in the pubs into frenzy. Drink sensibly.” - I think most people were in the local A&E with slit wrists!
You’ll be glad to hear The BBC acted quickly on the matter and have somewhat demoted the former Manchester United man back into the safety of the studio.

Jonathan Pearce – BBC

He will always be remembered for his commentary on cult show Robot Wars (Phil Neville was not part of the show). Pearce has been around the block a while and his trademark was making a song and dance over the House Robots, Sergeant Bash, Matilda and Sir Killalot. He was often forgiven for losing the plot, but when it comes to a World Cup you really must keep your cool, especially sitting next to mad-man like Martin Keown.

In France’s win over Honduras, Pearce struggled to understand the concept of goal-line technology despite having numerous screens and replays available in front of him. He suffered a backlash on Twitter, although if you don’t take life to seriously you’ll find it rather amusing.

Adrian Chiles - ITV

The presenter is another man that has fallen into a job in which he has no idea what he is doing, let alone what he is actually talking about. Starting with The One Show where he actually should have stayed with Frank Lampard’s missus, before a spell on Daybreak where his disaster began at ITV; still he is trusted to do a job in a sporting environment. Surely he will be remembered for the following comment in one of England’s warm-up games which were being held in Miami, yes in America! “Welcome to Rio” Chiles said gleefully, an angry ITV producer bashed his ears we can only assume.

The World Cup coverage has also introduced former players that struggle with the English language, which proved to be the case with Fabio Cannavaro and Juninho. It seems they were picked on their history as a World Cup winner, not an up and coming pundit.

Andy Townsend – ITV

The frustrating one for me is Andy Townsend. How ITV haven’t been reduced to tears with his dreary monotone voice is beyond me. The former EIRE international has apparently played in every position on every pitch in the world, not forgetting he has managed absolutely everyone too! Truth is he hasn’t. Unfortunately Andy has managed to pull the wool over ITV bosses’ eyes time and time again. His know it all confidence towards all things football is not only annoying, but most of all wrong.

Thankfully, modern day technology has not only introduced HD plasma screens, but a mute button on your TV remote. This is a viable option at any given time; you may be interested in using it.