Brian Barwick, the former head of television sport at the BBC and the man responsible for bringing Alan Hansen to our screens, explained that: “With a pundit you are looking 10 years down the line. There is a honeymoon period when viewers recognise them from their playing days. But that ends. Then you’re going to be marked purely on your performance as an analyst.”
The art of good punditry is simply being a good analyst whether you’re bland, controversial or sit on a couch wearing a trilby. Dull pundits are often forgiven if they at least talk sense, whereas loud pundits are not excused for their lack of insight.
Week after week, Alan Shearer, who despite an exceptional scoring record from his playing days, was a boring footballer with a boring celebration and has translated his insipidness on the pitch to the Match of the Day studio over the last two seasons. However, his biggest problem isn’t that he fails to connect with his audience because he’s monotonous and ordinary, it is his evident lack of understanding and consistent inability to convey anything interesting that makes him a bad pundit.
Tony Cascarino, who since his playing retirement has forged a successful career as a television and radio pundit as well as a regular newspaper columnist, admitted that certain frivolous attitudes towards punditry, and pundits who adopt a care-free posture, irritate him. “A manager in the Premiership was talking to me recently and he said, “If I lose my job I think I’ll do what you do.” That’s the attitude. They think it’s easy but it’s not.”
“It’s not true that all ex-footballers could do it. I’ve been in dressing rooms with players who had no knowledge of football. Unbelievable. No knowledge of the game they’re in!” Although Cascarino makes a valid point, the number of ex-footballers who demonstrate such a paucity of football knowledge, Steve McManaman notwithstanding, is both shocking and surprising. “Garth Crooks is awful. Awful. What does Crooks bring to that show [Final Score]? He doesn’t bring anything!”
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