Is it just me or are the ‘expert’ analysers employed by BBC tv and radio for its football coverage just pants? Gawd knows on what basis they are selected beyond being ex-footballers of course. But surely there must be more to it than that. How about an ability to speak near-English, or with insight about the game, or amusingly with wit and verve, or with telling opinions or anything other than mindless cliches and statements of the bleeding obvious.
Do you want me to name names? Well what about this bunch:
– Chris Waddle. I don’t mind the heavy geordie accent but he just talks twaddle, which is almost Yorkshire for his own language. It’s all footballspeak of the most mind-numbing standard. He was asked this morning about the spicy relationship between Sam Allardyce and Rafa Benitez who apparently don’t get on too well because of the ‘primitive’ style of football played by Bolton, SA’s former club. Waddle’s opinion? He actually said ‘that’s what the Premiership’s all about and if it wasn’t the fans would think that games were fixed’. Eh? What planet are you from son? Ferguson has had very close friendships with rival managers such as Walter Smith, Gerard Houllier, Jim Smith in the past. So the games between Man U and Everton, Liverpool and Derby were fixed then Chris? He hasn’t got an original thought in his mullet-covered brain. He went on to say this morning that ‘the makeshift Newcastle defence will not want to concede early goals like they did against Portsmouth’. Dya think? Now that is profound. Is it surprising he hasn’t ever had a big managerial job (even though he reckons he could do it) – no. Is it a surprise he has found a lucrative career commentating for the BBC -no again. What does he bring to them other than a regional accent? Beats me.
– Carlton Palmer. Now this lad really does have trouble with the English language. He is inarticulate, uninteresting and as predictable as Manchester rain. His mouth often runs free as the brain is back behind the bikesheds most of the time. When asked to talk live about the defensive qualities of one of this afternoon’s losing teams he simply said ‘the centre-back’s having a holocaust’. It’s not a comment the BBC would expect/want Paxman or Humphreys or John Arlott to have made is it, but because it’s a footballer there’s no redress nor apparent embarrassment. He’s a dopey footballer so it doesn’t really matter, but I have to endure listening to it? It might only be football but it insults my intelligence and the senses of many people I’m sure.
– Alan Shearer. Now we’re in big league TV as he’s one of the MoTD analysts. He shoots from the mouth and rarely are his comments considered or intelligent. After the Rooney/Ronaldo incident in the last World Cup he talked about Rooney giving him a belt when they got back together again at Old Trafford. OK it was a daft thing to say when young kids are watching but it’s typical of loose-mouthed footballers. He’s being lauded as a potential manger of the England team. Perlease. I sat next to him at a dinner many years ago. Beyond football chat there’s not much going on, trust me. He’s never going to be in the same league as a Beckenbauer for example, a footballer with rare intelligence, foresight, personality and strength of character. Could you imagine the Kaiser making a serious crack on national TV about belting a colleague?
Garth Crooks. Where to start? He looks a bit odd for a start and he talks a strange kind of language which consists of convoluted questions. He cannot make a simple point without it sounding as solemn as the declaration of war. It’s just a game Garth. Jeez.
Steve Claridge. This guys infuriates me more than most for some reason. He has a strange accent and his voice gets incredibly high-pitched when he gets excited. His claim to fame is blowing the considerable fortune he’s made through football on gambling. That qualifies him to be an expert analyst for the BBC then. He just prattles on about the jokey-blokiness of the dressing room and how no-one from outside can possibly understand the subtleties of the game, particularly when it comes to questions of managing. Oh f**k off. It’s a simple game and good/bad management is the same everywhere. And pray tell me what successes on the managerial front did you achieve to make you such an expert? Those 4 days at Millwall before the players had you out? Do me a favour.
I could go on, the BBC is full of these guys – David Pleat, Graham Taylor, Trevor Francis (he’s utterly useless) and so on. McClaren, as I’ve said before, will be next on the gravy train. He’s perfect for them; full of words, platitudes and cliches which sound plausible but don’t actually mean anything significant. A footballing man from Yorkshire, who’s read many management books, taken all the coaching courses and has a fascination with media profile. A true example of the man with strong opinions, weakly held.
There are, I confess, some guys the BBC use as analysts who I do like – Pat Nevin’s one. I also really like Gabriele Marcotti who they’ve pinched from Talksport. He’s absolutely full of opinions, not all of which I agree with, but he backs them up with strong rationale and compelling logic, facts and data. In other words it’s considered thought not just knee-jerk reaction comments spewing from his lips which so bedevil our on-air football debates and conversations. Oh and he’s not an ex-footballer.
Now there’s a radical thought BBC. Someone passing comment who isn’t a member of the cloistered magic circle of the football clique, you know the guys who cannot even be trusted to look after their own passports.