As of late, every retired footballer has found themselves in an analyst position on some major network. Some are decent, a few are great, but the majority are actually rubbish. If Alexi Lalas can have a job on a major network, then anyone has a glimmer of hope to get into sports broadcasting. It is a recurring theme that has resulted in the same struggles over time, why have we not scratched our ears out?
Sky Sports is the biggest offender of this where the likes of Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are allowed to get airtime that results more of a couples therapy session then actually analyzing the game. Carragher and Neville were decent footballers in their day, but much like the Manchester United man’s stint at Valencia – their commentating skills are something to be forgotten. Most feel similarly about the analysts, but networks continue to hire big name retirees as a way to boost viewership and appeal to certain fan bases. This is not way to connect your fans to the action.
Jamie Carragher, for example, obviously knows the game of football. He commanded the Liverpool backline for many years and did so with a great lack of pace and without slipping. But he doesn’t relate to the common football fan being a multimillionaire and lacking that true showmanship of the TV business. For success, networks need to find likeable figures to analyze matches that make you actually want to watch the show.
Fernando Fiore and Ray Hudson are two of the most outrageous analysts in the game. Hudson speaks in beautiful and relatively insane riddles, but makes the game exciting and has the big personality that is required for TV. He’s eccentric and entertaining unlike the whisper that is Jamie Carragher’s voice. Fernando Fiore has the voice and fun nature that thankfully overshadows his ginger compatriot on FOX, Alexi Lalas.
When it comes down to it, footballers have the tendency to be boring and very tactically oriented that most of the public doesn’t wish to hear about. Discussing tactics probably makes Gary Neville giggle like the Pillsbury dough boy, but bores the average viewer.
Football knowledge and education is important, but some of the best in the analyst game are people that love the game, breath the game, but might not have been too successful at the top levels of the game. The average viewer is able to connect with a more fun analyst and is more likely to watch. No one wants to hear the struggles of the marriage of Carra and Neville while they argue about a third man run from deep.
Networks should sacrifice a bit of tactical knowledge for showmanship when it comes to analysts, specifically those who haven’t made it in the beautiful game at the highest level. Viewers will feel more connected and less bored with the typical analysts on Sky Sports. FOX can definitely take a hint as well and do away with the blasphemous Alexi Lalas. He has no place in football and doesn’t deserve the TV time.