To be a pundit in the world of football, is to be a man or a woman that sits there and gets paid outrageous amounts of money to talk about the beautiful game – we aren’t knocking the idea. However, unfortunately, the watered down material which we see on our television screens week in, week out just isn’t good enough.
Let’s take the golden example in the modern day – Paul Merson. Now we all know that Merse has been a stereotype for mockery after years of controversy; the most recent video going round is the fact that he incorrectly predicted three ‘guaranteed’ bankers on FA Cup weekend, leaving many to question whether or not he has the right to call himself a pundit anymore.
The short answer is ‘no’. However, let’s not restrict ourselves to one man here. Throughout the world of football there are tonnes of ex-footballers that show up and feel like they can say every stereotype under the sun in order to create a bit of debate: “If they show up on the day, nobody can beat them” or “It really could go either way” are two of many statements that seem to be recycled and churned out by the Sky Sports or BBC machine, every weekend.
As fans, we want more; we don’t want people who clearly just show up and watch the games, then go off to have a few beverages with their pals following the encounter. Essentially, they’re getting paid to do what millions of us do in the pub every
other night – talk about football.
But they don’t have any real form of insight that makes it feel as if we’re learning something new.
Occasionally, we’ll hear about their interactions with the manager or players in question when they were alongside them or facing them, but what good is that? The majority of pundits have been retired for five or more years, and they aren’t telling us anything we couldn’t work out ourselves.
Which brings us to the real problem – they treat us like idiots. We pay good money to watch, listen and interact with the players of today and legends go by, and there’s a reason why many people choose to mute their televisions once the analysis comes on. There’s just no substance and this laziness that seems to have swept through the profession isn’t good enough.
But come on, let’s face it – they know exactly what they’re doing. Well, at the very least people like Merson and Crooks do. The first of the two lives off of the fact he can’t even pronounce the simplest of player names, meanwhile Crooks will play up, by naming someone like Chelsea’s Diego Costa in goal for Team of the Week.
Why then, do we allow these people to stay relevant? After all, we’re the voice of the voiceless and can let the figures be known when we’re unhappy. It’s simple, really – we thrive off of feeling superior. When they put out that fishing line to the world, fans bite like there’s no tomorrow and give them the publicity they so eagerly desire.
In many ways, this type of pundit is much smarter than your average Graeme Souness or Jamie Redknapp, because they’re going out of their way to make the headlines. We aren’t exactly living a life of luxury as your every day football supporter, so trying to knock down those who are quite clearly in far too advanced of a position makes us feel like we’re making the world a better place. It’s not true, of course, but it’s as if the media have created this kind of fantasy bubble for us to live in. For once, we need to stand up and burst it.
Whereas, you have people like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, who are starting to in form fans in ways we haven’t seen before, but why isn’t that becoming a universal standard which everyone should meet? It honestly seems like the longer the former player has been retired, the more bland and stereotypical they become. Now that their playing days are over, they don’t feel the need to ‘pander’ to the masses so instead choose the easy route as opposed to the hard-working one.
The typical person in this country works until around the age of 60 and 65, and whilst we understand that footballers can’t keep that up, they shouldn’t get to just stop putting the effort in once they’ve retired. Earn the extra money and give back to the supporters who watched you for years on end. If you don’t feel like you need to, great, then quit. Eventually if they do that, we can start zoning out the Mersons and Crooks in this industry and stop football punditry from becoming a pantomime.